Overall, Myanmar government officials have expressed a greater need for diagnostic tools. There is a growing necessity for early detection and prevention techniques, hence the in-vitro diagnostics (IVDs) and diagnostic imaging (DI) markets are growing quickly. Many hospitals lack basic diagnostic imaging equipment such as X-rays or ultrasound machines, and sophisticated medtech products are generally only available in large, private hospitals. Newer technologies such as 3-D and 4-D ultrasounds will also significantly improve diagnostic procedures. High quality tests and early disease detection needs will provide Western companies with many opportunities in the foreseeable future.
Two years after the lifting of sanctions in 2012, GE Healthcare opened offices in Yangon, Myanmar. According to GE, the company has pledged to help reduce maternal and fetal mortality rates, and has delivered more than $500,000 in equipment and has funded $2.5 million in healthcare training as of late 2015. GE has also partnered with the Ministry of Health to provide medical device training and healthcare delivery training. Since opening its offices in Myanmar, GE Healthcare has sold thousands of devices to hospitals and clinics across the country. Other companies such as Medtronic and Johnson & Johnson have also found success in Myanmar.
Myanmar’s Pharmaceutical Industry
In addition to medical device companies, foreign pharmaceutical companies are experiencing success in Myanmar. According to a 2013 report by BioPharm, Indian drug companies held 35%-40% of the pharmaceutical market, and foreign investment will continue to grow. In particular, brand-name drugs are expected to gain popularity as healthcare reforms continue to be implemented and increased government healthcare spending continue to drive the demand for pharmaceuticals.
Despite its difficult past, the government of Myanmar has made significant democratic improvements in recent years. The Burmese government has made the biggest strides in improving healthcare by increasing the healthcare budget and establishing better rules and regulations. Along with these positive changes, lifestyle and disease trends are rapidly driving the need for certain medical devices, IVDs and diagnostic tools, and pharmaceuticals. Together, these opportunities will provide Western medical device and pharmaceutical companies with good opportunities. To get a foothold in the Myanmar market, device companies should move quickly to build up their brands and reputation in this marketplace.