Stanford Cardiologist Muses on Globalization and the Future of Medtech

Peter J. Fitzgerald, MD, PhD had a lot to say at TCT2011 in a symposium on November 7 about globalization and IT, and how they will redefine healthcare. "[The opportunities] may not be in Sunnyvale, but there are opportunities that we are seeing in the life science arena," he said.

November 9, 2011

3 Min Read
Stanford Cardiologist Muses on Globalization and the Future of Medtech

Peter FitzgeraldPeter J. Fitzgerald, MD, PhD had a lot to say at TCT2011 in a symposium on November 7 about globalization and IT, and how they will redefine healthcare. "[The opportunities] may not be in Sunnyvale, but there are opportunities that we are seeing in the life science arena," he said.

Fitzgerald was optimistic about FDA's willingness to listen to industry's concerns in the recent past. "We are seeing [regulatory] delays, but in the last six months, I would agree what Tom Fogarty and Andrew Farb have said: we are seeing some [positive] changes [at FDA]." Fitzgerald predicted that the approval times for some devices would begin to decrease in the next two to three years. 

The desire for many device companies to offshore cinical trials, however, should come as no surprise, he explains. "If you squeeze the output that we have seen over the number of years with the [FDA] and CMS and the reimbursement, and you squeeze the input with respect to conflict of interest at the academic innovation level, it’s natural that [device companies] go outside [of the United States]."

So where are device companies going? All over the world: "They are going to Taiwan, India, China, Singapore, and South America. Some of the private incubators [are going to] Ireland and Israel," he said. 

China. Fitzgerald asked the audience to consider the market demographics in China. "There are 135 million people in China that are hepatitis B positive. There are 263 million over the age of 65."  He added that there are 125 million health consumers of healthcare in the country and most of them now pay out of pocket for treatment. The number is estimated to double by the year 2020. The country is taking a long term view to address these issues. 

Taiwan. Taiwan is up and coming in the life sciences arena, Fitzgerald said. "Not just as a consumer but as an innovator." To shed light on the country's connection to China, he recommended reading Helen Wang’s book “The Chinese Dream.” "It’s important to read because it really is typifying of where the opportunity is in Taiwan. They have an intent production infrastructure." He explained that the country could produce high-quality products so inexpensively that it was amazing. He pointed out that Taiwan has universal healthcare coverage. "There is a strong IPO for healthcare," he added. "And the strings are open to China. You can fly from the city airport in Taipei to 18 nonstop airports in China."

Israel. Per capita, Israel has the highest number of scientists and technicians in the world. "They just received another Nobel Prize." The country has the highest number of Nobel Prizes of any country in the world. Israel also has the largest number of life science companies, per capita. There is a "plethora of technology that has come out of there. They don’t just think outside of the box; they are not even sure there is one," he said. "They are not afraid to make mistakes; that is a key ingredient to success."

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