In Latin America, Specialty Medical Devices Grew by 20% in 2015

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Medical device import trends in Latin America offer compelling insights into the pressures affecting the industry—as well as opportunities for global and regional players.

In 2015, imports of capital equipment for the medical field contracted slightly from $5.2 billion to $5.1 billion year-over-year (YoY). Despite stagnant numbers, there are still a number of profitable product classes in response to the region’s epidemiological transition, in which aging populations and a pervasive obesity epidemic have left countries facing a high prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Deaths stemming from chronic diseases are projected to reach 84% by 2030, this is—and will continue to be—the primary driver for capital equipment imports in coming years.

Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia account for over 80% of the region’s import and sales of capital equipment. All of these countries have made efforts to revitalize their healthcare systems that present opportunities for manufacturers, distributors and integrators alike. In spite of the worsening economic downturn, the Brazilian government allocated funds towards teaching hospitals and improving specialty services in 2015; Mexico has initiated plans to streamline their medical imports as well as proposed initiatives to migrate systems to electronic medical records (EMRs); and Argentina has initiated their National CyberHealth Plan to expand patient outreach.

The Growth Categories in Medical Devices in Key LatAm Markets

Given all these efforts, manufacturers, distributors and integrators can expect sustained interest in capital healthcare goods in Latin America that will be led by diagnostic and patient monitoring equipment. Given the continued need for capital equipment as well as the financial constraints of payers, second-generation and certified refurbished equipment may gain traction. Here’s a breakdown of where medical demand seems to be going in different Latin American countries:

  • BRAZIL: In 2015 electrocardiograph machines were Brazil’s highest-growth medical device class, increasing by 28% to reach $4 million. The country also saw growth of 6% in ultrasound machines, reaching a market value of $107 million.
  • COLOMBIA: In 2015 Colombia displayed a 5% YoY growth in MRI machines, reaching $15 million.
  • MEXICO: With a 7% year-on-year (YoY) increase, infusion pumps rank as the dominant product class for the country’s imports. However, breath-enhancing machines (such as ventilators and nebulizers)—as well as defibrillators—experienced the highest growth, with a 20% YoY increase (to reach a market value of $98 million), and a 23% YoY increase (to reach a market value of $9.4 million), respectively. Other product classes showing significant growth in Mexico are blood pressure monitors, with a 2% YoY increase to reach a market value of $11.6 million.


Overall LatAm Growth Categories for Medical Devices

A number of different epidemiological conditions in Latin America set the stage for market growth in certain device categories. Suppliers should focus on the following:

#1 Cardiorespiratory Equipment: One factor that could drive the demand for this category is obesity: unfortunately, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina are among the most obese countries in the world and that bleak overweight rates plague Brazil and Colombia.
When you combine the potentially fatal conditions that accompany obesity with an aging population, it’s like that incidence of certain conditions will continue to rise in Latin America, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and blood vessel blockage).
As such, there’s significant potential for the diagnostic and treatment capabilities of infusion pumps, defibrillators, MRIs, electrocardiographs, blood pressure monitors, and ultrasound machines in the Latin American healthcare market, since these all address the acute and chronic symptoms of these diseases and their associated risk factors.
In addition, suppliers should expect resilient growth in products aimed towards insulin management, hypertension, atherosclerosis, embolism/thrombus formation, and decreased pulmonary function. Given gradual ageing of the population, the spread of chronic diseases, and forecasts indicating region-wide growth in healthcare spending of 4.8% per year through 2018, the demand for these product classes will persist in the near future.

#2 Portable Monitoring: Additional opportunities exist in aligning portable patient monitoring devices with government awareness and education campaigns. Existing government programs could use these devices to further public health objectives. Such is the case of Mexico’s National Strategy for Prevention for Control of Overweight, Obesity and Diabetes and Brazil’s School Education Program, which also encourage awareness and lifestyle changes. There is a clear regional trend to embrace products made “simple and convenient”, with portability features and home use in mind, particularly if these are able to strengthen the patient-doctor relationship.

Contact Americas Market Intelligence to learn more about the growth in specialty medical devices in the Latin American healthcare market, to garner competitive intelligence or to access our database of more than 12,000 hospitals across Latin America.
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Guillaume Corpart

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