Devicemakers Must Be ‘Street Smart’ When Distributing in Asia
U.S. device firms choosing Asian distributors must be more “street smart” than when they work in Europe because of cultural and regulatory differences, an expert says.
For starters, devicemakers must get their regulatory staff more involved in the company’s search, so they can analyze the distributor’s regulatory department, Ames Gross, president of Pacific Bridge Medical, said.
Asia has seen an emergence of private distribution companies that usually are not well funded. Many lack expertise in selling Western products, Gross said, speaking at the Medical Device Manufacturers Association’s annual meeting. For instance, few large-scale, private national medical product distributors are available in China, so it is necessary to put together several private regional groups there.
The search for a Chinese distributor must be slow and methodical, Gross said, and should involve “no marketing — just ‘here are the products.’”
India, like China, is plagued by a fragmented distributor network, so firms likely will need more than one distributor to cover the country, Gross said. He noted that research is key to dealing with infrastructure issues in India, which has more problems in this area than China and Japan.Additionally, many Indian distributors are unable to handle regulatory issues, such as device registration, so devicemakers may want to choose distributors who deal in other imported products.