Korea’s output of medical devices expanded 3.9 percent year-on-year to mark 5.82 trillion won ($5.44 billion) last year, boosted by an increase in dental implant-related products and anti-wrinkle fillers, government data showed Tuesday.
According to data from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, the nation’s exports of medical devices amounted to 3.57 trillion won in 2017, up 8.2 percent compared to 3.38 trillion won in 2016.
Imports of medical devices also rose to 3.95 trillion won last year, up 11.1 percent from 3.65 trillion won in the previous year.
The annual production of medical devices climbed 3.9 percent to 5.8 trillion won in 2017 from 5.6 trillion won in 2016. In the past five years, the output grew 8.4 percent annually on average.
The size of the local medical devices market has also grown to 6.19 trillion won last year, up 5.5 percent from 5.87 trillion won in the previous year. The market is showing 7.6 percent annual growth every year on average.
The expansion of the medical devices market stemmed from a rise in dental implants.
The output of dental implants covered by the national health insurance, which stood at 888.9 billion won, took up the largest share of the total output of medical devices in 2017.
The growth of dental implants apparently resulted from population aging and the expansion of health insurance coverage on dental implants. In July 2015, people aged 70 or more started to benefit from the health insurance when receiving dental implants. Then, the age threshold has been lowered to 65 in July 2016, allowing more people to benefit from the health insurance.
Following dental implants, general-purpose ultrasound imaging devices ranked second with 495.1 billion won output, and plastic surgery-purpose fillers, third, with 206.6 billion won.
By manufacturer, Osstem Implant ranked first with 689 billion won, followed by Samsung Medison with 280.8 billion won, and GE Ultrasound Korea with 152.4 billion won. The combined productions by the top 10 medical device producers reached 1.73 trillion won, accounting for 29.9 percent of the total production.
General-purpose ultrasound imaging devices were most exported medical devices with 622.6 billion won products shipped overseas last year. Next came dental implants with 229.6 billion won, plastic surgery-purpose fillers with 212.4 billion won, and daily-wearing soft contact lenses with 172.8 billion won.
Exports of fillers for plastic surgeries notably spiked 35.6 percent to 212.4 billion won in 2017 from 161.3 billion won in the previous year. The surge was attributed to the rapid growth of China’s plastic surgery market.
Exports of dental implants also jumped 21.6 percent to 229.6 billion won in 2017 from 193.8 billion won in 2016.
Exports of Grade 4 products that require technological advancements such as artificial hip joints increased to 316.6 billion won in 2017 from 266.9 billion won in 2016.
By the volume of exports, GE Ultrasound Korea ranked first shipping 305.3 billion won medical devices overseas, followed by Samsung Medison with 248.8 billion won, and Standard Diagnostics with 147 billion won. Exports of the top 10 companies amounted to 1.26 trillion won, accounting for 35.4 percent of the total exports of medical devices.