February 20th, 2014 – Tijuana, Mexico was showcased as Mexico’s medical device hub at MD&M West, the largest medical device event in the United States.
Held in Anaheim, California February 10th – 13th, MD&M West featured suppliers of medical devices as well as products and educational opportunities related to the medical-device field.
An increasing number of manufacturers of medical devices find Tijuana’s business environment attractive. Whereas full-time American workers typically work 40 hours a week, a standard workweek in Mexico, before overtime must be paid, is 48-hours. Direct labor costs in Mexico are approximately 70 percent lower than in the U.S. and other developed nations.
Since Tijuana is about 20 miles from downtown San Diego, California, it’s near a location in the United States where research and development in the life sciences and biomedical sectors enjoy a reputation for excellence. And since Tijuana is so close to San Diego, its workforce operates on Pacific Standard Time. Manufacturers in Tijuana know how to fulfill certification requirements for medical devices. Among them are the federal FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requirements and the CE requirements of the European Union (E.U.) Mexicans employed in the manufacture of medical devices are skilled, bilingual workers.
In 2006, 22,060 people worked in Tijuana making medical devices. In 2013, that figure was 34,258, according to the Baja California Medical Devices Customer Survey. Nowhere else in North America are there more people working in the area of the manufacture of medical devices than in Tijuana. Among the medical devices manufactured there are heart catheters, urine bags, IV sets, blood transfusion bags, disposable mouth protectors, infusion pumps, lenses, walkers, feeding tubes, ventilation and respiratory devices and pacemakers.
Currently, almost 40 manufacturers of medical devices have operations in Tijuana. Among them are CareFusion, Fisher & Paykel, Ossur, Welch Allyn and NxStage. Another factor drawing companies to Tijuana is the fact that Mexico values the importance of intellectual property (IP) rights as demonstrated by the fact that it is a signatory to the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreements.
Medical device manufacturing in Mexico competes well with China and other Asian countries. For instance, transportation costs are lower, particularly for heavyweight and high-volume products. It costs more to ship goods from China than to bring them in by truck (or air) from Mexico. Shipping time from Mexico takes only days. From Asia, it takes weeks. So, when products have to be in the customer’s hands quickly, Mexico is the clear winner.
As the number of Mexico medical device manufacturers increases, the business environment for medical device manufacturing in Mexico will get even better. The Mexican government encourages the creation of jobs for its residents and, therefore, will continue to create a climate that makes medical device manufacturing in Mexico the winning choice.