Medtech CEOs sound off on semiconductor shortage

BD CEO, President and Chair Tom Polen [Photo courtesy of BD] AdvaMed continues to push…

BD CEO, President and Chair Tom Polen [Photo courtesy of BD]

AdvaMed continues to push the Biden administration to prioritize medical device manufacturers for semiconductor supplies.

With medtech companies still struggling to source chips amid a global shortage, the industry association held a meeting this week with some of its members and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to make their case.

“Semiconductor chips are crucial to our industry and to the countless patients who depend on the medical technologies we produce,” AdvaMed President and CEO Scott Whitaker said during the meeting, according to a readout. “In this challenging environment, we simply cannot compete with larger players to gain access to chips.”

Medical device manufacturers buy about 1% of the world’s semiconductors, the trade group has said. That small share is difficult for the industry to leverage with chip makers, and AdvaMed argues that other buyers would not be significantly harmed if the federal government directed more chips toward the medical device industry.

Specifically, Whitaker requested that the Biden administration “use any and all tools at its disposal to ensure the continuity of patient care in this country, … send a clear and unambiguous message to chips manufacturers and distributors that our health care system must be prioritized, and ensure full transparency for future allocations to our industry.”

AdvaMed also released a summary of statements from medtech CEOs at the meeting, including one leader whose efforts to take market share from another at the meeting have been hampered by supply chain challenges:

Hologic CEO Stephen MacMillan

Hologic CEO Stephen MacMillan [Photo courtesy of Hologic]

Hologic CEO, President and Chair Steve MacMillan: “Screenings for breast cancer have decreased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when women are being urged to return to their preventive health screenings, ensuring a sufficient supply of semiconductor chips to manufacture and maintain the thousands of mammography systems throughout our country is critical to preventing delays in diagnosis and treatment.”

BD CEO, President and Chair Tom Polen: “The work we are doing on Secretary Raimondo’s Advisory Committee for Supply Chain Competitiveness is advancing solutions to address the unprecedented raw material shortages, transportation bottlenecks and labor challenges we are all experiencing. BD is committed to delivering on the promise of smart devices and connected care for patients, but that requires ensuring semiconductor chips are available for medical technology. Now more than ever, we must continue to work together, across industry and government, to deliver long-term solutions that protect the continuity of health care in the U.S. and around the world.”

(We’ll hold a keynote interview with Polen at DeviceTalks Minnesota, June 6–7, 2022 in Minneapolis.) 

A portrait of ResMed CEO Mick Farrell in a suit

ResMed CEO Mick Farrell [Photo courtesy of ResMed]

ResMed CEO Mick Farrell: “What we are seeing now is a humanitarian emergency in medtech, and especially in respiratory medicine. Patients are suffering because medical device manufacturers are struggling to get the parts they need to help serve patients and support their healthcare providers. Semiconductor chips are ResMed’s number-one bottleneck for sleep apnea devices and ventilators, and we’re pleading that chip manufacturers and distributors do the right thing and increase the priority for our medical technology, so that together we can help save lives.”

Royal Philips CEO Frans van Houten

Royal Philips CEO Frans van Houten [Photo courtesy of Philips]

Royal Philips CEO Frans van Houten: “We have to fight every day to obtain even a fraction of the computer chips we need to produce life-saving medical systems and devices such as the imaging systems we manufacture to enable minimally-invasive heart treatment, or the patient monitors we produce for intensive care units and emergency departments. This is resulting in significant production delays at a time when high-tech medical equipment, which millions of men and women in the U.S. depend on for the delivery of quality care, is in high demand. Given the current severe shortage of chips, we, therefore, need to act now and prioritize chip allocation to vital medical systems and devices.”

UP NEXT: Learn more about medtech solutions to supply chain challenges at DeviceTalks Boston next week.

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