Qmed Staff

December 12, 2013

2 Min Read
Demand for X-Ray Film Surges in China

While digital x-ray imaging technologies are commonly used in many Western nations, analog x-ray machines still have a home in some parts of the world. During the first 300 days of this year, more than a quarter-billion dollars of bulk film was exported by the United States. Bulk photography film, commonly transported in rolls, can be be cut up into smaller pieces and used in both x-ray machines and traditional cameras. In this year alone, exports of this analog film have exceeded total exports from January of 2010 to December of 2012. In fact, exports from the first 10 months of this year alone have exceeded all previous years since 2002. As a reference, most people were still using analog cameras in 2002.

X-ray film demand is skyrocketing in China.

The growth of China's analog x-ray market quickly grew in the middle of 2013. Image from Quartz.

A significant amount of this analog film was exported via U.S. ports in California. According to an analysis by Quartz that utilized Zepol data, almost half of 2013 exports that refer to film are linked to Carestream Health, a Kodak spinoff. Carestream Health manufactures medical equipment and films. In 2007, Carestream was created when Kodak sold its medical subsidiary to Onex, a private equity firm. In 2012, the company was also responsible for approximately half of Chinese film imports from the United States.In a statement shared with the press, a spokesperson for Carestream did note that China has a massive market for medical film technologies. While the production of the actual film takes place inside the United States, packaging and production takes place overseas.In part, growth in the Chinese medical film industry is due to its own healthcare reform. In 2009, China made a pledge to provide universal healthcare for its citizens. While digital x-ray technologies are used in many countries, analog x-ray machines are significantly cheaper than their digital counterparts. Because of this, China uses many analog x-ray machines in its rural regions to meet its 2009 universal healthcare mandate. According to World Bank data, the rural population of China is larger than the Euro Zone and United States populations combined. Because of this, healthcare costs in China are skyrocketing. From 2008 to 2009, the Chinese analog x-ray market increased by more than two-fifths. In comparison, the overall global market for analog x-ray machines didn't budge. An estimated 20,000 hospitals in China still use analog x-ray machines. In total, analysts estimate that the country's total analog x-ray market is five times larger than that of the United States.

Sign up for the QMED & MD+DI Daily newsletter.

You May Also Like