Var­ian to open fa­cil­ity in Wuxi

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINESE TRAIN PROJECTS AROUND THE WORLD - By WANG CHAO wangchao@chi­

Var­ian Med­i­cal Sys­tems Inc, a ma­jor United States med­i­cal de­vice and soft­ware man­u­fac­turer, re­cently an­nounced it will open a new plant in Wuxi, Jiangsu prov­ince, mak­ing X-ray tubes, dig­i­tal panel de­tec­tors and other wire­less imag­ing de­vices.

The plant, which will break ground in the lat­ter half of this year and start op­er­a­tions next year, will be Var­ian’s sec­ond largest imag­ing com­po­nents plant in the world.

Es­tab­lished in 1948, Var­ian is the world’s largest man­u­fac­turer of on­col­ogy treat­ment de­vices. It started do­ing busi­ness in China in 1983, and built its head­quar­ters and first plant in Bei­jing in 2006. It now has four of­fices in China with 350 em­ploy­ees.

Ac­cord­ing to Zhang Xiao, ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent and man­ag­ing direc­tor of Var­ian China, the de­mand for ra­dio­ther­apy prod­ucts has been surg­ing in this coun­try.

“We chose Wuxi also be­cause it is close to our ma­jor clients,” Zhang said. “Cur­rently, most do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional di­ag­nos­tic imag­ing equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers (such as com­puted to­mog­ra­phy and ra­di­og­ra­phy de­vices) are based in Shang­hai, so the Wuxi plant will sup­ply parts to them more con­ve­niently.”

Once it starts op­er­at­ing, the plant will be able to sup­ply more X-ray tubes. Cur­rently, Var­ian makes about 60 per­cent of the world’s X-ray tubes.

Fig­ures from the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion show that in the US, more than 70 per­cent of tu­mors are treated by ra­di­a­tion ther­apy, but in China, the num­ber is only 16 per­cent; and for ev­ery one mil­lionth per­son there are 8.5 lin­ear ac­cel­er­a­tors in the US, five in France, but only 0.97 in China.

Yu Jin­ming, an aca­demi­cian at the Chi­nese Academy of En­gi­neer­ing, said Chi­nese hos­pi­tals have over­looked the value of ra­dio­ther­apy and are too de­pen­dent on surgery and chemo­ther­apy.

Com­pared with surgery, ra­dio­ther­apy is more ef­fec­tive in the early stage of can­cer, es­pe­cially with lung can­cer, he said.

“We should es­tab­lish a mech­a­nism in the hos­pi­tal: When a pa­tient is brought in, doc­tors from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines should meet to dis­cuss which ther­apy is the best ap­proach. If ra­dio­ther­apy is the best ap­proach, then do it be­fore it is too late,” he said.

And with tech­nol­ogy pro­gress­ing, ra­dio­ther­apy can do less dam­age to the healthy tis­sue when the rays go through the body.

The pro­ton ther­apy cen­ter in Shang­hai made head­lines when it opened on May 7. This pow­er­ful med­i­cal sys­tem is a so­phis­ti­cated ra­dio­ther­apy tool that can de­stroy tu­mors quickly with­out hurt­ing healthy tis­sue.

Be­cause ra­dio­ther­apy equip­ment is costly, for its most popular model Unique, the price ranges from 10 mil­lion to 20 mil­lion yuan, ($1.6 mil­lion to $3.2 mil­lion) the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has set quo­tas for the to­tal num­ber of ma­chines for hos­pi­tals.

But China is be­com­ing the big­gest strate­gic mar­ket for Var­ian and Zhang said it has

the al­ready be­come the sec­ond largest mar­ket just af­ter the US. Mar­ket re­search com­pany GIA Inc re­cently pub­lished a re­port say­ing that driven by the de­mands in Asia-Pa­cific, East Europe and Latin Amer­ica, the ra­dio­ther­apy mar­ket will reach $3.9 bil­lion in 2015.

Chi­nese Can­cer Reg­istry An­nual Re­port in 2012 shows that ev­ery year there are 3.5 mil­lion new cases of can­cer in China, and with the aging pop­u­la­tion, the num­ber is fore­cast to in­crease rapidly.

“With the lo­cal pro­duc­tion of its model Unique next year, which can treat 80 per­cent of can­cer pa­tients suit­able for ra­di­a­tion ther­apy, the cost can be fur­ther brought down, and the county-level hos­pi­tals can save the has­sle of im­por­ta­tion and save the tar­iff and lo­gis­tics costs,” Zhang said.

About 10 years ago, the gov­ern­ment es­tab­lished a pol­icy to en­sure can­cer di­ag­noses can be done at the county level, but pa­tients found to have the dis­ease had to go to provin­cial­level hos­pi­tals for treat­ment, be­cause there was no equip­ment at county-level hos­pi­tals.

“With the progress of China’s med­i­cal re­form, I think more hos­pi­tals will buy this equip­ment, so the mar­ket po­ten­tial in China is huge,” Zhang said.

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