|Barry Thomas, vice president and director of medical device maker Cook Medical’s Asia-Pacific region. (Cook Medical)|
Cook Medical is not hesitant about competing with Samsung, which runs medical equipment maker Samsung Medison and hospitals in Korea, believing that smaller companies with firmer roots in the business have a better chance of success than those with no medical business history.
“When it comes to Samsung, which is getting into the medical device market, the firm is another competitor. We will adapt and I am very confident about competing (with Samsung) because of our advanced technology and because we have been in the industry for 50 years now,” said Barry Thomas, vice president and director of medical device maker Cook Medical’s Asia-Pacific region, during an interview with The Korea Herald.
Cook Medical stands as the world’s largest private manufacturer of medical devices and equipment. In Korea, it has been in business since 1983, although the official Korean offices were established more recently in 2007.
The medical device maker produces minimally-invasive medical devices including a stent graft for treatment of arterial blockages in the thighs. The firm is also a leading manufacturer of an embryo transfer catheter, a device used for in vitro fertilization.
The Park Geun-hye administration has pledged to support the medical device industry in line with its creative economy initiative and make it one of the nation’s growth engines.
Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co. and Dong-A Socio Group jumped in the stent business earlier this year.
Samsung Group, meanwhile, mainly focuses on producing ultrasound diagnosis equipment, in-vitro analysis systems and digital X-ray imaging systems from its medical devices unit.
“Competition leads to better innovations. We don’t view that as a threat but as an opportunity. We will continue to innovate, and we will continue to run our business based on our corporate philosophy, ‘putting patients first before profit,’” he said.
Thomas also downplayed Google’s “Calico,” a medical information company for health and well-being, especially anti-aging.
“It is really hard to understand what Google is talking about with its ‘info-medic’ technology. The world has already talked about electronic health records for a long time.”
Delving into Cook Medical’s business philosophy, the executive stressed that “health care is about the patients and the outcome.”
“Such business practices as ‘rebate,’ or kickback, still exists in lots of markets. However, we try to stay out of all of that,” he said.
Cook Medical has been deploying a direct sales strategy to eliminate the middle brokerage channel in markets around the world and started running the same system this year in Korea.
With more people flocking to the Internet for medical information, marketing tactics that do not guarantee desirable medical outcomes will be futile, he explained.
“We don’t look at the business in the everyday in dollars and we are not looking at share holders. We look at the patients, so we can make a decision based on what is ethically correct,” said the vice president of the family-owned firm, adding “We want to be seen as a company that is driving a change in the world’s medical market.”
The importance of the Asian market, the third largest after North America and Europe, is on the rise, and so is the Korean market, he said.
The Asian market took up 20 percent of the world’s market share, while North America accounted for 45 percent, and Europe, 22 percent in 2011, according to the firm. Korea is the 13th largest market.
By Kim Young-won (email@example.com