Global medical device makers form APACMed, Asia’s first industry trade club

Some of the biggest medical device makers, including GE Healthcare, Abbott, Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific , are banding together to form the first industry trade group in Asia.
The Asia Pacific Medical Technology Association, or APACMed, which is expected to be announced on Friday, hopes that by working together in the historically fragmented region, governments and regulators will take the group’s interests more seriously.
The broad constituent base, which the group hopes will include local companies in addition to multinational device makers, “will make the government and regulators and policy makers look at us a little bit differently,” APACMed ceo Fredrik Nyberg tells us. All of the founding APACMed members are western companies but the leadership is talking with a number of companies in Japan, Korea, China and Singapore, as well as an Indian industry association, he adds.
Among the key issues to address, he explains, are new regulations in China for medical device clinical trials that were issued last year and could stall the time it takes to get products to market by 12 to 24 months.
Though there have been medical device industry groups in the U.S. and Europe for decades, Asia is a newer and more fragmented market. And so, Nyberg says that senior industry leaders have been talking for the last year or two about the importance of working together and forming an industry group to more effectively affect change in regulations, treatment guidelines, laws and ethics.
“What we’re seeing is we’re at a bit of an inflection point in Asia Pacific in terms of healthcare,” says Nyberg, who has worked in the industry across Asia for some 25 years. More and more people in Asia want – and are able to afford – better healthcare but supply is not keeping up, he notes.
In some markets, the challenge is in establishing better medical infrastructure like hospital beds and an adequate number of doctors. But in others, the issue is how to train medical professionals on the latest technologies or to get reimbursed for innovative products, according to APACMed chairman Vladimir Makatsaria.
“At the end of the day, healthcare is an extremely important part of our economy and part of our society,” says Makatsaria, who also leads the medical device business in the Asia-Pacific region for Johnson & Johnson. “Healthcare is facing a major challenge moving forward globally but in Asia even more so.”