08 Aug 2012, Amrita Tejasvi, BioSpectrum
Medical Technology manufacturers are getting cost-conscious and so are the buyers, especially in some parts of Asia. International life science companies have been evaluating ways to meet the low price tag demand of the Asian market without compromising on quality. US-based medical technology provider Greatbatch is on its toes to find a solution.
Greatbatch, which provides components to medtech companies, such as Boston Scientific, J&J, and Medtronics, is exploring potentials in the medical devices markets in India and China. It also has plans to establish a R&D center in Singapore, which will be a continuation of its medical device strategy to engage in emerging healthcare markets.
The idea is to bring innovation in the designing of products that will eventually cut down the cost. In an interview with BioSpectrum Asia, Dr Dan Kaiser, vice president and chief technology officer, Greatbatch, shares the company's plan to venture into the Asian market. Here are the excerpts:
You have decided to enter the Asian market. What will be your next step?
Our whole idea is to build on the innovation pipeline and bring cost-efficient medical devices to Asia without compromising on quality standards. We have identified India and China as our target markets, and hence the next step is to understand the requirements of the region and accordingly develop medical devices. Greatbatch has decided to build a medical devices R&D center in Singapore that will aim at designing low-cost medical technology for Asian markets.
Our existing products may be expensive for the region, so fundamentally we have to set up a platform that allows cost-effective solutions. Our idea is to bring medical devices that are cost-effective and simple and create devices that allow accessible and affordable care with appropriate technology. When you have an established healthcare system and there is infrastructure in the US and Europe, it is easy to extend operations in new countries.
What medical devices and technology will you focus on?
We are going to do market research in China, India, Indonesia and Singapore and get to know what solutions are viable here. We have narrowed down some products that we are going to manufacture. The Greatbatch Singapore AIMD R&D Center will focus on the design and development of active implantable medical devices, to serve the cardiovascular and neuromodulation markets. The new products will be designed as per the need of Asian market, with low price aspect and easy to use.
To serve the cardiovascular market, the company has identified needs in interventional procedures, atrial fibrillation, MRI conditional systems, as well as targeting health conditions related to cardiovascular disease with therapies for obesity and obstructive sleep apnea.
Our motive is to design the product as per the demand of the region and make it simpler and affordable. We are looking to design it in a different way that gives the same therapy at low costs. This cannot be done by sitting in the US or Europe but has to be done through consultations with healthcare professionals. We will go through regulatory approval of each targeted country in Asia and then launch our products.
What are the challenges in setting up operations in Asia?
The challenge is not in setting up operations but in meeting healthcare professionals from the region. The whole of Asia is vast and each region has its own characteristics. The reason for selecting Singapore is its geographic advantage, high skilled human resources, established infrastructure, good IP law, and opportunities to partner with communities, such as A*Star. Strengthened by 30 employees, including researchers and scientists, our R&D center will start operational by 2013.
Operating from Singapore, our team will interact with healthcare professionals and take their input on designing innovative medical devices. The feedback will help in evaluating unique healthcare demands of Asia and then design the product accordingly. Greatbatch wants to team up with budding entrepreneurs of Singapore for commercialization or R&D-boosting opportunities.
What is the price reduction that you are looking forward to achieve?
We are looking at price reduction of at least 30 percent, but the company has yet to formally identify the product and treat the same disease with higher affordability. Traditionally the trend has been to manufacture the existing products in Asia to enable cost efficiency. However, it does not have a very high impact on the cost.