The Irish medical devices market has become a lucrative opportunity for overseas medical device makers in recent years.
The companies, mostly based in the UK, have enjoyed strong returns from overseas sales, with sales of medical devices up 30 per cent to $2.1 billion last year.
These include medicines for chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, as well as other products such as artificial limbs and other prosthetic devices.
But this lucrative market is also seen by some in the medical device industry as a risk to global healthcare.
Dr John McArthur, CEO of global health and safety firm MediHealth, said the global medical devices industry is now vulnerable to competition from other companies in the US and elsewhere.
“We’re going to see more and more companies in this market coming to Ireland and selling products to people in this country, and that’s going to have an impact on how the rest of the world markets,” he said.
“The global health industry is a very fragile thing, and I think the biggest thing is the fact that we’ve seen an explosion in the number of pharmaceutical companies coming into this market.”
The biggest medical device manufacturer in the world, Medtronic, is also one of the largest exporters of pharmaceutical products in the country.
Dr McArthur said the pharmaceutical industry was a key driver of the country’s recovery and is looking to continue growing its presence in the market.
“There’s a lot of people that are looking to move into this field, and this is where it’s all going to get a boost,” he added.
The medical devices sector is a lucrative business for overseas companies to take advantage of the current boom in demand, as it brings in the biggest foreign exchange earnings from the US.
However, Dr McArthur warned that the rise of cheaper Chinese pharmaceuticals in the region will make this lucrative niche even less attractive.
“As China has been getting into the business, it’s been the fastest growing economy in the Asia Pacific region, and so it’s going into this space,” he explained.
Dr McAdam said that as a result of the boom in Chinese pharmaceutical sales, demand for medical devices has grown by 30 per-cent over the last five years.””
We see that there’s been a lot more of this in recent times, and it’s just a natural progression of that.”
Dr McAdam said that as a result of the boom in Chinese pharmaceutical sales, demand for medical devices has grown by 30 per-cent over the last five years.
“It’s going up by 30 to 50 per cent in that timeframe, so that’s a huge amount of growth, and obviously you’ve seen the rise in the cost of the medicines and the costs of the equipment, so there’s going a lot on that,” he continued.
“So if you look at that as an opportunity, you know, it might have to be a little bit more aggressive in terms of what you do in terms the prices you charge.”
Dr MacArthur added that it was important that companies invest in the local medical device sector to make the country attractive to foreign companies.
“A lot of our customers are not going to be looking at the price that they would pay if they’re going overseas to buy medical devices, but they’re very likely to be going to a country like Ireland or New Zealand where you have these huge opportunities, and you can have a little margin there,” he concluded.