The West Has No Monopoly on Medical Invention

May 22, 2008
Not all medical innovation comes from the West.

That was one lesson you could take away from the recent China Medical Equipment Fair (CMEF) and International Component Manufacturing and Design (ICMD) Show coheld in Shenzhen, China. New to the semiannual event were pavilions for Malaysia (a major global supplier of catheters and surgical gloves) and Ireland (where 13 of the world’s top 25 medical device companies reside).

Noninvasive testing was prominent. For example, engineers at Masimo Corp. ( redesigned the firm’s Radical Pulse Oximeters into noninvasive and continuous hemoglobin monitors. The company says blood-hemoglobin level is one of the world’s mostfrequently tested medical indicator because it helps diagnose anemia, a blood disorder affecting 2 billion people worldwide. Older tests were invasive and could only be done intermittently. The company’s Rainbow SET technology permits more-frequent and convenient testing. This helps health-care personnel make better clinical decisions earlier, especially in acute settings such as intensive care, surgery, and trauma, where blood loss is common.

A new device introduced at the show, eZscan from Impeto Medical (, should help stem the spread of diabetes. The World Health Organization estimates there will be 221 million cases of type II diabetes by 2010. eZscan is the first noninvasive prediabetes-screening device. The company says conventional methods don’t catch the disease until it has progressed for seven to nine years, when 50% of patients have one or more irreversible complications. Also, typical detection methods demand fasting, ingesting glucose, and multiple blood samples. Worse yet, tests often give false negatives or inconsistent results. In contrast, the eZscan is said to be simple and accurate. Subjects need only place their hands and feet on flat nickel electrodes and place gel electrodes on their forehead. eZscan applies low dc voltage to varying combinations of anodes and cathodes, and measures the currents generated by electrochemical local reactions to create a diabetes-risk score. There’s no need for laboratory analysis. Impeto says the device will first go to the Asian market because the FDA makes the U.S. market difficult to penetrate.

Medical invention aside, China is said to be a difficult market to crack because of its own version of the FDA. Products sold there must be approved by the SFDA, the country’s authority on licensing of medical products.


The eZscan non-invasive diabetes screening device gives healthcare personnel a quick way to detect type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes, based on altered neurological skin functions.

The eZscan non-invasive diabetes screening device gives healthcare personnel a quick way to detect type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes, based on altered neurological skin functions.

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