One of the under-reported stories about medical tourism is its likely impact on the medical device market. In our recent white paper, John Seus and I describe how Western medical device companies may react to the emergence of countries like India as medical tourism destinations and as up and coming domestic markets. We speculated about how Western companies might serve those markets and compete with local, low priced producers:
Will a segmented market develop, with lower cost, prior generation products offered at low prices in the same geographic markets alongside the latest generation, highest priced products? Will global leaders begin to compete in the lower priced segments? Is so, should this be done by introducing lower priced brands alongside core brands? Will the high and low ends of the markets converge over time as they have in some technology markets such as computer chips?
It looks like some of these predictions are coming to pass, according to a story in The Economic Times of India (Johnson & Johnson eyes larger pie [sic] of orthopaedic market)
In a bid to grow its presence in the Indian orthopaedic devices market, US healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is planning to roll out India-specific devices. These new products are designed in India to specifically meet the lifestyle needs of Indian people and will have competitive pricing, sources said.
For starters, J&J has recently rolled out a India-specific knee implant christened “PFC Sigma RP-F Knee.” “We do undertake new product development of medical devices in India such as PFC Sigma RP-F Knee. For the patient, this means that the device closely mimics the natural motion of a knee joint allowing them to perform activities like playing with children, kneeling down to pray or bending to cook,” said J&J India director Anil Nayak…
The company has identified India as a key growth market for this business. “J&J intends to bring to the Indian market high technology products, train doctors to increase the specialist pool and empower patients by increasing awareness about disease conditions and its management,” said Mr Nayak.
The company imports the orthopaedic products from Europe and US for the Indian operations and has no immediate plans to manufacture them here. “However, as India is one of the key markets, we do have a competitive pricing strategy for the region,” said Mr Nayak.
I’m not sure exactly what the unique “lifestyle needs of Indian people” are, but if it is the ability to “perform activities like playing with children, kneeling down to pray or bending to cook,” as the article suggests then I have a feeling that some Western medical tourists may also be interested.
Look for more moves by J&J and competitors. This isn’t the end of the story.January 8, 2008