Domestic AED manufacturers now taking center stage
With strengthened policy support, domestic automated external defibrillator (AED) manufacturers are ramping up efforts in innovation to offer more high-quality products to users.
Efforts were spurred by a recent notice from the National Health Commission, which urges operators of some public places to conduct scientific planning on AED allocation based on factors such as the incidence of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, the number and density of the population, and the area of the jurisdiction.
This was the first time the NHC put forward technical requirements for AED allocations. Industry experts said issuing the notice will greatly raise market demand for AEDs, and offer more opportunities for domestic makers.
"There are about 1.5 million to 2 million people in China killed by cardiac sudden death every year. Offering first aid to such patients is of great significance, and this is also why in most important transportation hubs in Western countries, there is dense deployment of AEDs. It is important for China to do so as well," said Wu Guangming, president of Yuwell Group, a leading manufacturer of medical products in China.
China used to rely heavily on imported products. Foreign brands including Philips, Nihon Kohden and Zoll Medical took up roughly 80 percent of the market. Supported by years of development, domestic makers are gradually taking back market share.
For example, Shenzhen, Guangdong province-based medical device provider Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics Co Ltd now enjoys a major place in the domestic AED market, with their products becoming choices for over 50 percent of buyers, the China Association of Medical Equipment said.
Behind the achievements were the efforts of domestic companies. In recent years, Chinese AED manufacturers have been ramping up efforts to break the import monopoly.
In 2013, Mindray launched a biphasic AED, filling a number of technical gaps in China's AED field. It was China's first AED with completely independent intellectual property rights.
Ever since Mindray's product was launched, the market price for AEDs of international brands dropped by 50 percent.
The company attributed its success to relentless innovation and keeping pace with the latest technologies and design philosophy, Mindray said.
Ever since its establishment, Mindray has been focusing on research and development in the AED sector. Every year, 10 percent of Mindray's sales revenue goes to R&D.
The company now has 10 R&D centers and over 3,000 engineers globally. In the first three quarters of 2020, the company's R&D input reached 1.79 billion yuan ($281 million), up 19 percent year-on-year.
Another leading domestic enterprise is Yuwell Group. In 2017, it acquired Primedic－the AED branch of German medical device company Metrax GmbH－and managed to become a major manufacturer in the domestic market.
"More Chinese enterprises are tapping into the market through introducing international technologies and making breakthroughs through independent innovation," said Wu Qun, president of Yuwell Medical, a subsidiary of Yuwell Group.
"Every year, we invest over 8 percent of sales revenue in R&D, aiming to become a lighthouse enterprise to lead the development of the industry."
"Domestic AED suppliers should seize the opportunities brought by the international reshuffle, which is shifting toward the direction of high technology and services. AEDs as an outcome from high-tech high-end service enjoy the bonus of industrial transfer. Furthermore, now with favorable policies online, domestic AED makers should enhance their efforts to better tap the market," said Wang Chikun, an independent economist.