China has rapidly emerged as a major player in the global medical equipment industry, with a market size of over 520 billion RMB ($80 billion USD) in 2020. The country’s growing healthcare sector, aging population, and rising middle class have contributed to the growth of medical equipment distributors in China.
However, with a vast number of distributors operating in China, it can be overwhelming for foreign companies to identify the right partners. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to navigating the medical equipment distributors in China.
China’s medical equipment market has been growing rapidly in recent years, driven by the country’s expanding healthcare sector. In 2020, the Chinese government announced a five-year plan to invest 1.7 trillion RMB ($260 billion USD) in the healthcare industry, which includes medical equipment and supplies.
The market is dominated by domestic players, but foreign companies are increasingly looking to tap into the market. According to the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), the regulatory body for medical devices in China, there were over 18,000 registered medical device manufacturers in China as of December 2020, of which 92% were domestic companies.
However, foreign companies still hold an advantage in certain areas, such as high-end medical devices, advanced technology, and innovative products. In addition, the demand for imported medical equipment in China has been increasing, driven by the country’s growing middle class and rising healthcare standards.
Navigating the regulatory landscape is crucial for companies looking to enter the medical equipment distribution market in China. The NMPA is responsible for regulating the manufacture, import, and distribution of medical devices in China.
All medical devices must be registered with the NMPA before they can be sold in China. The registration process can be lengthy and complex, and companies should seek the assistance of a regulatory consultant to navigate the process.
In addition, foreign companies must obtain a Medical Device Product Registration Certificate (MDPRC) from the NMPA before they can import medical devices into China. The MDPRC is issued based on the device’s classification and risk level, and the registration process can take up to 12 months.
Medical equipment distributors in China are fragmented, with a large number of distributors operating across the country. Identifying the right distribution partner is crucial for foreign companies looking to enter the market.
The most common distribution channels in China are direct sales and distribution through agents or distributors. Direct sales are typically used for high-end medical devices or products that require specialized knowledge or expertise. Distribution through agents or distributors is more common for general medical devices and supplies.
Companies should conduct thorough due diligence when selecting a distribution partner. Factors to consider include the partner’s reputation, distribution network, marketing and sales capabilities, and after-sales service.
Pricing is a critical factor in the medical equipment distribution market in China. The market is highly price-sensitive, and companies must price their products competitively to succeed.
In addition, the Chinese government has been taking steps to control the prices of medical devices and supplies. In 2019, the government implemented a centralized procurement system for drugs and medical supplies, which has led to price reductions for certain products.
Companies should also be aware of the value-added tax (VAT) and import duties that apply to medical devices in China. The VAT rate for medical devices is 13%, and import duties can range from zero to 20%, depending on the product.
Marketing and Sales
Marketing and sales are crucial for the success of medical equipment distributors in China. Companies should develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that includes online and offline channels.