Healthy Medical Device Sub-Sector

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia, the leading producer of catheters and surgical gloves globally, can expect employment opportunities in the medical devices sub-sector to double by 2020.

Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) chief executive officer Datuk Azman Mahmud said the billion ringgit sub-sector is set to create up to 85,000 jobs from 46,000 now, following the gradual shift towards higher-value and higher-order medical devices.

The industry is shifting from rubber-based products to plastics, silicone and metal alloys. “Among the growth areas being promoted are electro medical equipment, cardiovascular devices, orthopaedic devices, in-vitro diagnostic products and wound care products — most of which are being imported now,” he said. Contract manufacturing for research and development and medical devices and equipment is also another potential growth area.

The medical devices industry has attracted RM23.6 billion in investments, mostly foreign direct investments, while exports have been exceeding RM10 billion annually, mostly to the G3 markets — the United States, Europe and Japan. Malaysia supplies 80 per cent of world market for catheters and 60 per cent for rubber gloves, including medical gloves.

The country also produces hospital “support” products, such as medical gas, anaesthesia sets, operation theatre tables and examination tables and surgical gowns, drapes and masks.  Renal products is potentially another area that Malaysia wants to promote.

The sub-sector has been included in the healthcare National Key Economic Area and has the capability to generate RM17.12 billion in revenue by the end of this decade.

“Supporting industries ranging from sterilisation services, sterile medical packaging, precision engineering and tool and die making to contract moulding and assembly and machinery fabrication, as well as electronics manufacturing services, enhance our position as an outsourcing destination and global supplier,” Azman said.

Malaysia has also become a preferred location for medical devices and products in Asia. Not only can the country be a clinical devices champion, it can also become a turnkey production “orchestrator” for multinational corporations, while attracting them to set up local authorised medical equipment refurbishment facilities for CT scanners, MRI and molecular imaging.

Azman said there are more than 190 medical devices makers locally with the majority involved in the production of surgical and examination gloves.

By Rupa Damodaran, New Straits Times, 24 August 2014

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