Device Companies Look West, East, Anyplace But US
With clear regulatory approval paths in Europe and growing markets in Asia and other developing markets, device executives and investors see international markets as increasingly attractive alternatives for clinical validation, revenue, and regulatory approval.
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Nearly stalled Western economies have driven corporations of all stripes to ponder the market potential promised by the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). The medical device industry is no exception. The BRIC nations present a challenging but lucrative opportunity for companies willing to deviate from traditional markets to access economies with GDPs that place them in the top 15 economies in the world. Of the BRIC nations, China has become the number one destination for health care technology companies in the minds of CEOs of commercial-stage medical device companies. But executives staring only on China might be missing another compelling opportunity that literally rests under their noses: Latin America.
The road to the rising markets of Asia can be daunting to some medical device start-ups, but not Pleasanton, CA-based TriReme Medical Inc. For the past two years, the privately held maker of balloon-equipped catheters has constructed inroads to Asia through the city-state of Singapore. Two years ago, the company established a subsidiary in Singapore, enabling it to dip into the Asia-based capital pool.
Just as it did with VNUS, Covidien snapped up a smaller leader in a field where it had very little contact – esophageal cancer and its precursor Barrett’s esophagus – with the intent of building a larger presence. Covidien paid $325 million for Barrx Medical Inc., developer of a radiofrequency tool capable of eliminating Barrett’s, a condition in which damaged esophageal tissue presents an elevated risk of developing into esophageal cancer.