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CEO calls for closer Sino-US ties in medical devices

By WANG KEJU | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-30 09:19
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Increased cooperation between Chinese and US companies in the medical device sector can drive technological advancements in both countries and contribute to the betterment of global healthcare, said a senior executive with MitrAssist Lifesciences, a Shanghai-based cardiovascular medical device company.

So, the companies concerned in the two countries should leverage their respective strengths and prioritize patients' well-being, she said.

Both China and the United States are the world's largest markets for medical equipment, each with its unique edge, that can be mutually beneficial and yield commercial profits, said Wang Li, the company's CEO.

China has witnessed rapid progress in medical technology over the decades and crafted a well-developed supply chain that sets it apart from any other nation globally. Meanwhile, Chinese companies have demonstrated their ability to adapt, embrace new technologies and optimize processes, Wang said.

MitrAssist Lifesciences, for example, has established its research and development centers in China, Israel and Germany, thereby harnessing global expertise and best practices; this helped it to immerse itself in the methodologies, products and innovative logic of each location, fostering accelerated growth within its Chinese team, Wang said.

The strengths and capabilities enable Chinese medical device firms to produce goods efficiently and at competitive prices, Wang said, adding China's vast market potential, increased healthcare spending and supportive government policies have all created a favorable environment for innovation in the medical device sector.

A recent report released by the National Medical Products Administration showed that by the end of 2022, there were 32,632 domestic medical device manufacturers in China, and their combined revenue surpassed 1.2 trillion yuan ($168.6 billion), accounting for about 27 percent of the global medical device market.

The US medical device industry, with its cutting-edge technology, robust research and development capabilities and a sound regulatory framework, remains at the forefront of innovation, said Chen Qiulin, vice-director of the Research Center for Health Industry Development of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

By pooling resources and knowledge, the joint efforts made by Chinese and US companies will help create more innovative medical devices that address unmet medical needs and improve patient care, as well as expand each other's market reach and revenue streams, Chen added.

Their call for more collaboration comes at a time when the medical device sector is witnessing growing demand for advanced technologies and solutions globally. According to the NMPA, China approved 55 innovative medical devices for market entry last year. In the first half of this year alone, 28 innovative medical devices were approved for marketing.

Previously, imported brands dominated the medical device market, while domestic products lacked intellectual property, brand recognition and market presence, and were associated with low-end features, low prices and slim profit margins. However, there has been a notable shift in recent years, Wang said.

The company, for instance, has utilized new materials that extend the life span of heart valves, increasing their durability from 10 to 25 years. Additionally, the transition from manual to automated production has ensured higher production efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and propelled China to a leading position in this regard, Wang said.

Chinese brands are now recognized for their enhanced reliability, efficacy and competitive pricing, attracting both domestic and international customers, Wang said, noting that her company, with its portfolio of 157 patents, has established a sales team in the United States and distributor networks in multiple countries, ensuring its products reach healthcare providers and patients worldwide.

The Chinese government's commitment to healthcare reform and investment in the medical device sector has played a pivotal role.

China's most recent measures to encourage foreign investment in the country have put in place exit channels for foreign investors, in accordance with international practices, which are expected to shore up foreign firms' confidence to expand their presence in China, Wang said.

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