News Article

Medical Devices Sector Dominating Demand

By Miriam Bello | Fri, 04/03/2020 - 16:46

The medical devices industry in Mexico is well established and has grown considerably in past years, making the country the number eight exporter of medical devices at a global level. Mexico is third in worldwide exports of tubular suture needles and fourth in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary instruments and apparatus. It is also the fourth-largest exporter of medical furniture and a world-leading exporter of catheter syringes, cannulas and similar instruments. Most exports are directed to the US and this has been a stable, strong market for years, so much so that this sector was not even fearful of the USMCA agreement.

It is no surprise that with the COVID-19 outbreak, demand was going to highly increase. Specifically, ventilators have been the most requested equipment that Mexico has been asked to export to the US and Europe.

According to AMID, Tijuana’s demand for ventilators increased 1,000 percent after the COVID-19 outbreak hit, which has caused nearly 4,000 deaths in the US and more than 43,000 worldwide. This industry will continue working as it was included in the Mexican government's list of essential activities, which allowed factories to remain open despite a national closure that affects most companies.

US medical devices firm Hillrom will begin producing ventilation machines in Tijuana, while companies like Vyaire Medical, Fisher & Paykel and Getinge are also promoting the manufacturing of products to combat the epidemic, such as masks and protective equipment.

While specialist warn that the country itself will need those devices, Miguel Ángel Félix Díaz Alonso, treasurer of a Mexican association representing 76 manufacturers of medical products in Baja California has said that it is crucial to keep production operations running as these are life-saving devices crucial to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

The Mexican government has tried to double the availability of ventilation machines in the national health system by ordering 5,000 devices from China, something that was questioned as we are a big manufacturer hub ourselves. In hopes that we are not trying to fulfil others’ demands instead of our own, the media has asked the Ministry of Health repeatedly why the country asks China for the devices instead of taking advantage of our own capabilities, but there has been no response. The Ministry of Health has declared that Mexico has enough equipment to care for 2,000 patients but, foreseeing a worst scenario, the ministry would be joining efforts with SEDENA and SEMAR. Still, the number of ventilators remains at 5,523, with 2,896 provided by IMSS, 2,053 by SSA, 330 by ISSSTE, 133 by PEMEX, 56 by SEDENA and 55 by SEMAR. Malaquias López, a UNAM scholar has said that if the epidemiological curve is flattened, there could be enough ventilators to cover the country’s needs.

In the meantime, medical devices that are in fact produced in Mexico, are being hold by COFEPRIS for a long period of time, when their need is urgent.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst