Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/07/2014 -- These leading emerging economies represent a total medical market of US$26.8 billion. But how might the impact of the economic downturn affect them? Where do commercial opportunities exist for medical device companies now, and what are the future prospects?
Putting things in perspective
With a combined population of 3.0 billion people and with significant unmet medical need, the challenges and opportunities of the BRIC markets are considerable. The economic downturn has affected these markets varyingly; for example, the Brazilian import market may be affected by disadvantageous US$ exchange rates, but China is affected more by a weak economy in the USA, its major market. Significant growth rates are impressive, but the low starting point - along with a range of other operational issues - means companies must be targeted in the opportunities they pursue.
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Opportunities do exist
There are, of course, wide regional differences in expenditure levels within the BRIC countries, far more so than in developed countries where health systems have evolved to provide a more uniform level of coverage. All four countries have a relatively wealthy urban population with a far greater spending power than their respective national average. These urban populations have grown rapidly, and number hundreds of millions. The challenge for these countries is to extend this level of wealth to the rest of the population, in order that better levels of healthcare become affordable.
A long haul
The prevailing economic woes have to be seen over the long term. This is evolution not revolution, and change will be incremental. Short-term opportunities exist in meeting the health demands of the burgeoning middle classes, and future prospects are bright, where steady growth in BRIC markets will erode commercial differences with the established markets in North America, Japan and Europe.
Highlights from the Region
Brazil has the largest economy and medical device market in Latin America, but per capita medical expenditure is still very low. The highest expenditure is in the large cities, such as Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, but producers are moving into regional markets outside the major state capitals. Dilma Roussef, who took office as President on 1st January 2011, has largely followed in the footsteps of former president Lula da Silva, maintaining market-friendly policies and ensuring broad policy continuity. The next elections will be held in 2014. GDP is forecast to grow 3.5% in 2013 and at an average of 4.1% through to 2018. With a growing economy, if inflation is kept in check, there will be more money available to spend on healthcare both in the public and private sectors.
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