Korea’s medical devices and related materials output surpassed 6 trillion won ($5.17 billion) for the first time in 2018.
According to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, the production of local medical devices expanded 11.8 percent last year, compared to a year earlier, on robust sales growth of dental implants, ultrasound imaging devices, and cosmetic fillers.
Dental implants marked 1.07 trillion won output in 2018, general-purpose ultrasound imaging equipment, 524.7 billion won, and cosmetic fillers, 227.1 billion won.
The robust growth of dental implant production resulted from the population aging and the expanded national health insurance program, the ministry said.
The top three dental implant manufacturers were Osstem Implant with 873.8 billion won output, Samsung Medison with 305.6 billion won, and Dentium Factory in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, with 172.1 billion won. The combined production of the 10 largest makers reached 2.05 trillion won, accounting for 31.6 percent of the total.
With the aggressive support of the government, the manufacturing of innovative medical equipment with technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and 3-D printing has also increased.
The production of innovative medical devices that used 3-D printing, robotics, and ubiquitous healthcare system (u-healthcare) surged to 3.6 billion won in 2018 from 80 million won in 2016.
The domestic output of medical devices has steadily risen with 9 percent annual growth rate on average in the past five years. Exports of medical equipment went up 3.97 trillion won in 2018, up 11 percent from 3.57 trillion won in 2017.
Last year, the most exported items were ultrasound imaging devices for general purposes, selling 646.7 billion won overseas, followed by dental implants with 271.8 billion won and dermal fillers with 234.1 billion won.
By country, the U.S. was the largest importer purchasing 680.7 billion won worth Korean medical devices, followed by China with 621.3 billion won, and Germany with 282.9 billion won. Compared to 2017, exports to Egypt and Iran grew the most significantly.
By company, GE Ultrasound Korea was the largest exporter shipping 299.2 billion won, followed by Samsung Medison with 270.4 billion won, and SD with 213.5 billion won. The top 10 exporters accounted for 35.9 percent, or 1.42 trillion won, of the total.
The combined amount of top 10 imports posted 898.1 billion won, which took up 21 percent of the total imports of medical devices last year.
The most imported item was Daily-wear Soft Contact Lenses, with Korea importing 168.8 billion won worth products, followed by coronary artery stent with 112.4 billion won, and MRI equipment with 102.8 billion won.
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