Top 5 Medical Equipment Manufacturers

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Although it appears as though there are many different brands of medical equipment, most are actually held under the umbrella of a few larger corporations. It is true that there are various medical equipment manufacturers, however the majority of this multi-billion dollar industry is held by a select few. Here is a list of the five major medical equipment manufacturing industry players:

1.    Medtronic, Inc.

Medtronic, now one the largest developers and manufacturers of products aimed at treating chronic conditions, it started from humble beginnings. In 1949, in Minneapolis, Earl Bakken and Palmer Hermundslie began fixing and selling equipment out of their garage. Soon they themselves began inventing the equipment. Their main departments focus on cardiac rhythm disease management, spinal and biologics, cardiovascular, and diabetes management technology.

Milestone Invention: Always on the forefront of technology, Medtronic has made significant strides in the field of medicine by developing the first wearable pacemaker in 1957.

Specially Noted For: Medtronic’s continued involvement with today’s youth is particularly noteworthy. Through Medtronic’s Foundation, they publishes a free informative magazine, Science Matters, aimed at informing K-6 students, parents and educators and inspire an interest in the sciences.  Click here to down a free digital copy of Science Matters.

2.    Boston Scientific Corporation

Boston Scientific’s aim is to improve quality of patient care through less invasive medical devices and is noted for its continued commitment to the community through its annual donation of $25 million for research and education in local communities. Although their revenue is reportedly in decline for this year, totaling 8,050 million, they are expected to improve within the next two quarters.  Founded in 1979, this company is ranked 320 of the Fortune 1000 companies.

Milestone Invention: Boston Scientific’s most notable contribution was in 2004 with the launch of Taxus Express, a coronary stent. This product launch has been considered one of the most successful in the industry.

Specially Noted For: Boston Scientific’s dedication to patient advocacy groups serves to better inform patients on new treatments and in general serves as a trusted information source. These advocacy groups include those focused on cardiovascular patients and chronic pain sufferers.

3.    Baxter International

Baxter International focuses on hemophilia, immune disorders, infectious diseases, kidney disease, trauma, as well as several other chronic illnesses. Baxter International was formed in 1931 as the first manufacturer of intravenous (IV) solutions. Always trying to be in first place, at the onset of World War II, few companies could meet the army’s specifications; America’s troops were lucky that Baxter's IV and blood-collection products were there as they were one of the few company’s able to meet the military’s standards. 

Milestone Invention: Baxter International was the first company to be granted authorization by the European Commission (EC) for CELVAPAN H1N1 pandemic vaccine using Baxter’s Vero cell technology.

Specially Noted For: Baxter’s efforts to make their facilities environmentally sustainable. Winning various awards for their commitment to sustainability, most notably being included in the 2010 Corporate Knights Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World (the Global 100) list, created by the Global Sustainability Research Alliance, a group which includes the Corporate Knights, Inflection Point Capital Management, Global Currents Investment Management, and Phoenix Global Advisors LLC.

4.    Becton Dickinson

Maxwell W. Becton and Fairleigh S. Dickinson started this company in 1897 and on October 8th, they made their first sale of a Luer all-glass syringe for $2.50. Since then, Becton Dickinson has focused on reducing needlesticks or sharps injuries. Aside from making the workplace a safer place, Becton Dickinson has developed affordable, auto-disable syringes that prevent the spread of diseases due to reusing needles.    

Milestone Invention:  Becton Dickinson was responsible for the first blood collection set (think syringe) which was sterile and, most notably, disposable. Becton Dickinson made headway with this disposable product as it was the only company which was able to handle the switch from reusable to disposable syringes.

Specially Noted For: Becton Dickinson has donated over $8 million to AmeriCares, an organization known for providing aid to regions afflicted by natural or manmade disasters. AmeriCares also provides medical outreach programs both abroad and within the US. 

5.    Johnson & Johnson

From their famous “I am stuck on Band-Aid brand ‘cause Band-Aids stick on me” advertisement campaigns to over-the-counter painkillers such as Tylenol, Johnson & Johnson serves as the largest manufacturer of non-surgical medical supplies. In 1886, three brothers, Robert Wood, James Wood and Edward Mead Johnson, joined together to form Johnson & Johnson where they developed the first commercial sterile surgical dressings. Since then, J&J has been changing the way people treat wounds by developing various non-invasive sterile products.

Milestone Invention: Johnson & Johnson has made so many products that are available to the “every man” that there are perhaps too many great inventions to select. That being said, a notable invention that has had widespread impact was the original creation of First Aid kits. In 1891, Johnson & Johnson manufactured First Aid kits and First Aid Manuals under the RED CROSS® trademark. Although these kits were first meant to be used exclusively by railroad workers, their popularity soon spread and became standard in schools, homes and the work place.

Specially Noted For: Being awarded by the US Department of State the Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy for funding Safe Kids Worldwide. Safe Kids Worldwide conducts research on the local level, educational programs and works towards child safety legislation initiatives.  According to the Department of state, “the awardees were chosen for their outstanding leadership in advancing America’s ideals through public diplomacy by offering a positive vision of hope and opportunity rooted in America's belief in freedom, justice, opportunity and respect for all.”