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The Medical Device Outlook in Emerging Markets

From: Business Insights


The emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) have become lucrative, high-growth markets for medical devices. The device market in developed nations such as the US, Europe, and Japan has reached saturation, and the economic recession has restricted growth in these countries over the past two years. The emerging economies are not only growing due to increased adoption of medical devices owing to increased health awareness, but these nations are also lucrative investment regions for multinational medical device companies to offshore business operations. The growing middle-class in the BRIC nations has reached more than one billion in population and this trend implies a surge in value-added lifestyle. The combined gross domestic product (GDP) of BRIC was about 31% of the global economy in 2009 owing to their increased share in global outsourcing and offshoring.

Classification of emerging markets

IMS Health classifies emerging nations in the pharmaceutical sector into three tiers under its “Pharmerging Markets” description. However, there is so similar classification of emerging markets with respect to medical devices. Business Insights has made the first attempt to categorize prominent emerging nations under different tiers with this report.

Tier 1 – China: China is only country to be included in the top tier. Among emerging nations, it is the country with the largest medical device market size and has double-digit growth rates. Moreover, evolution of medical device regulation is fastest in China and over the forecast period up to 2015 it will emerge as a global medical device manufacturing hub with production protocols comparable to developed nations. Business Insights estimates that China will be a stand-alone country in the top tier of emerging medical device markets until 2015.

Tier 2 – India and Brazil: While the medical device market sizes of India and Brazil are not as large as China’s, Brazil and India are among the fastest growing medical devices markets. The reason they are classified under Tier 2 is not only because of their smaller market size in comparison to China, but also because of their evolving regulations. In India, new medical device regulations are expected to take effect from 2011 and Brazil has started to impose good manufacturing practices (GMP) protocols only since 2009 on its medical device manufacturing sector. Given the strong technical backgrounds available in these countries, they have the potential to become Tier 1 countries after 2015.

Tier 3 – Other emerging nations: These include Russia, Turkey, Vietnam, Argentina, Chile, South Korea, Malaysia, and Mexico. While Mexico and Russia are the largest markets for medical devices in this tier, they are limited by the fact that, despite strong technical backgrounds, they have ineffective manufacturing protocols to develop indigenous medical device manufacturing. Given their growth rates, Mexico and Russia could become Tier 2 countries after 2015, but never in the league of Tier 1. Other nations would continue to remain in Tier 3 owing to their small market size for medical devices.

Table 1: Medical device market size – emerging countries, 2009


Country Market Size ($bn)
China 8.7
Brazil 3.2
India 2.7
Mexico 2.7
Russia 2.4
Turkey 1.7
Argentina 0.7
Chile 0.4
Vietnam 0.3
Total – Emerging countries 22.8

Source: Business Insights

Impact of middle-class growth in BRIC

China and India are nations where the majority of the population fall under the lower income range of less than $3000 per annum, but these countries are characterized by high savings. The number of people with incomes above $3,000 per annum – the middle-class – has been steadily increasing over the past five to 10 years. The rising middle-class creates a demand potential in all forms of enhanced lifestyle, including healthcare. The share of medical device exports to the BRIC nations is increasing from both developed and emerging countries, and this trend is likely to continue as demand from BRIC consumers rises in the next decade. Healthcare facilities in BRIC are underdeveloped in terms of quality patient care, and the population-physician and population-hospital beds ratios are low in comparison to developed economies. The only exception is Russia, where secondary care is on a par with the developed nations. Since the BRIC economies have been growing consistently over the past decade due to the rising middle-class, there has been a significant increase in the purchasing power and healthcare awareness among this group. Moreover, the increases in life expectancy and average age of the population are creating large growth opportunities for medical device sales. The expansion of health insurance combined with developing healthcare facilities by means of government initiatives will trigger market growth opportunities in the medical devices segment.

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