£810 / $1295 / €985
Japan is the third largest economy in the world behind the USA and China. The medical device market remains the second largest, behind only the USA. Per capita GDP is also high, among the top ten in the world. The USA and Germany are the only countries to import more medical equipment, and Japan is the eighth highest exporter of medical devices in the world.
Japan has some of the best vital statistics in the world, including the lowest infant mortality rate and highest adult life expectancy.
A rapidly ageing population has burdened the healthcare system both in terms of funding and facilities and is of great concern for the Japanese government. As a result, payments made by the government to medical institutions have been slashed (by record levels in 2006) in an attempt to ease national medical spending.
In September 2011, the Ministry of Health said medical spending has continued to rise in line with the ageing population and also blamed the rise on the use of increasingly sophisticated and expensive equipment & technology, such as MRI, CT and endoscopic keyhole surgery.
Japan has the most expensive medical equipment in the world. It should however be borne in mind that some of the reasons for this lie with a distribution system that hikes up retail prices with hidden costs.
In 2008, more reimbursement price revisions were made to medical devices, bringing the total price cuts to 126 functional categories since the foreign reference price system was introduced in 2002. The latest revisions however made several positive allowances in favour of innovative medical devices, by raising reimbursement prices in order to provide an incentive for the development of more such devices and use in the country’s healthcare system.
Increasingly, domestic companies are tending to focus on developing their markets abroad, particularly in other parts of Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The leading local industry players have begun to place even more emphasis on expanding their marketing and sales presence in these emerging markets.
Imports rose by 8.1% to reach a new record high of US$11.6 billion in 2011. All categories recorded positive growth except for consumables, the largest category, which fell by 5.7% to US$2,784.9 million. Orthopaedics was the best performing sector, rising by 21.2% to reach US$1,682.9 million.
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