Western Diseases Are Now More Rampant in Asia

Ames Gross

In many Asian countries, rapid economic growth during the past decade has led to increased personal incomes, improved public healthcare, and longer life expectancies. At the same time, an aging population combined with unhealthy lifestyle changes have led to a dramatic increase in the prevalence of traditional Western diseases.

These chronic diseases (including cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases) are quickly becoming the predominant causes of death and morbidity in Asia. Their fast growing prevalence has spurred Asia’s demand for advanced medical devices for their treatment, management, and prevention.

Cancer. More than six million new cases of cancer are diagnosed in Asia every year. As incidences continue to rise, Asian governments have begun to invest heavily in initiatives for improving treatment options and availability. Cancer centers in Asia are therefore increasingly well equipped and technically sophisticated. While chemotherapy and radiation therapies remain the dominant forms of treatment, other options such as the Gamma Knife (radio surgery), proton therapy, and hormone and biological therapies are becoming more common. Asia’s demand for Western equipment in cancer detection and treatment will therefore continue to see growth.

Diabetes. More than 125 million people in Asia are currently suffering from diabetes, with the incidence expected to rise to more than 200 million by 2030. This growing number brings an increased need for insulin needles and syringes, insulin pens, insulin pumps, injection ports, infusion sets, and more. Recent innovations, such as insulin jet injectors and continuous glucose monitoring systems, will also find a steady growth market as the middle class in many of Asia’s developing countries continues to expand.

Cardiovascular disease. More than 60% of the world’s 17 million cardiovascular deaths each year occur in Asia, with particularly high rates in India, China, and Southeast Asia. The Asian market for cardiovascular devices is currently dominated by imports from U.S. and European companies. Major import products include pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators, and cardiac (often drug-eluting) stents. As more and more patients are opting for interventional cardiovascular devices in lieu of heart surgery, the demand for high-end Western products will continue to drive growth in this Asian medical devices sector.

Ames Gross is the president and founder of Pacific Bridge Medical. He is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in Asian medical markets.