Due to demographic shifts, including an aging population, US healthcare expenditure is expected to increase in the coming years, from $3.3 trillion in 2016 to $5.7 trillion in 2026, and demand for medical devices is also expected to reflect this increase. And due to its close proximity and history servicing this industry, perhaps no one stands to benefit from this more than the Dominican Republic, one of the U.S. leading medical device suppliers.
Medical device manufacturing is one of the most dynamic export industries in the Dominican Republic. The country has positioned itself as the third developing country with the highest export value of medical and surgical instruments worldwide.
According to the “Top 30 Medical Device Companies" Report published by Medical Product Outsourcing (MPO) Magazine, nine (9) of the thirty (30) largest global medical device companies have direct manufacturing operations in the free zones of the Dominican Republic. In 2018 alone, the free zones exported medical devices for US$ $1.6 billion, which represents a growth of 10% compared to the previous year.
Currently, 32 medical device and pharmaceutical product manufacturers are operating under the free zones regime, generating more than 24,000 direct jobs, with an accumulated investment of US $1.358 million. These investments are 4 times larger than those registered in 2008.
Medical devices exports are not just expanding due to these types of investments, but also because established companies have continued to grow locally and bring more stages of their production processes into the country. These processes include intermediate components manufacturing (i.e. injection molding, extrusion) ETO and E-Beam sterilization, and the production of more sophisticated products.
As of 2018, the Dominican Republic was a leading supplier to the United States in different medical device categories, including:
· 1st supplier of ostomy appliances
· 2nd supplier of medical and surgical Instruments, including infusion sets and blood therapy equipment
· 3rd supplier of surgical drapes
· 4th supplier of electro-medical instruments and appliances
· 4th supplier of parts and accessories of electro-diagnostic apparatus
· 11th supplier of orthopedic appliances
Global medical device companies with a presence in the Dominican Republic include Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, B Braun, Cardinal Health and Ecolab. In 2018, Medtronic expanded operations in the Dominican Republics Zona Franca San Isidro with an investment of approximately U.S. $46 million. The companys total investment in the country exceeds $160 million, at a total of 4,000 jobs generated in its four factories.
Also last year, Cosmed Group, the first company dedicated to the sterilization of medical devices in the country, announced a $20M investment, establishing operations in Dominican Republics Zona Franca Las Americas. The company, which provides pasteurization and sterilization services and technologies through a network of contract processing facilities, is expected to begin operations at the end of this year.