Current Market Trends
Capital: Santo Domingo
Currency: Dominican Peso
In the Dominican Republic, the demand for medical equipment and supplies will continue to grow over the next years driven by the changes in the Dominican Social Security law, the steady growth in the number of privately-owned hospitals, and the continually-rising need for medical products for a growing population. There is a strong preference for U.S. goods, provided the prices are competitive. Among the numerous advantages enjoyed by U.S. exporters of medical equipment and supplies to the Dominican Republic are: the positive reputation as manufacturers of good quality; quick delivery time; close proximity to the U.S. that results in reduced shipping charges; and small order accommodations. Since many Dominican physicians have been trained in the U.S., they are highly receptive to U.S. products.
U.S. products and services enjoy favorable access to the Dominican market. The Central American Free Trade Agreement-Dominican Republic (CAFTA-DR) provides for duty-free entry of medical equipment and pharmaceutical products. To succeed in the Dominican market in the healthcare sector, it is advisable to have a local distributor that can provide after-sales and leasing services, support guarantees, and maintain inventories for parts and supplies. Exporting directly to the private hospitals can be extremely challenging since procurement practices in public hospitals dictate that all purchases must be made through a local Dominican company. Local importers and distributors usually have sales agents who distribute the products to small retailers throughout the country. Local distributors also conduct promotional activities to encourage doctors and nurses to use and recommend their products. However, U.S. exporters should seek local legal counsel prior to signing a representative agreement with a Dominican agent to ensure that their rights to terminate an agreement in the future are safeguarded.
The Dominican market for medical equipment and supplies depends on imports. This market, which is largely dominated by U.S. exporters, has maintained a consistent demand for equipment. It is expected to continue growing, due to a very competitive situation between private- and public-sector healthcare facilities for the acquisition of modern technologies in machinery and equipment. Price is the primary determining factor for the purchase of disposable such as gauze, surgical drapes, surgical catgut, and the like. However, when purchasing surgical sterilizers, ophthalmic surgery instruments, breathing appliances and gas mask, etc., quality is the deciding criterion. The public sector bases most purchasing decisions largely on price and is very often more receptive to less expensive products even if the quality might be questionable.
The Dominican Republic has become a destination for preventive medicine, orthopedics, cosmetic surgical procedures, weight loss surgery, cardiology, organ transplant, oncology, eye surgery, and dental procedures. The medical community has begun to take advantage of the tourist flow, developing attractive packages for medical tourism. The leading private hospitals are certified by the Ministry of Health, which holds international recognition, and several are either accredited in the process of obtaining accreditation through the Joint Commission International
U.S, companies have 65 percent of the Dominican import market for medical equipment and supplies. There is extensive local production of surgical instruments and supplies. However, 95 percent of this production is exported through the Free Trade Zone (FTZ) Program. Products manufactured in these FTZs include; wound management products (wadding, gauze, and bandages), general surgery and minimally invasive surgery Instruments, ophthalmic surgery instruments, disposables (syringes, needles, catheters, surgical gloves, clothing for operating rooms, and surgery sponges). There is limited manufacture of surgical supplies beyond the FTZs and this production is not sophisticated, mainly involving textile products (gauzes, bandages, and surgical drapes).
Public hospitals and private clinics are by far the largest potential users of surgical instruments and supplies. For disposable surgical products such as gauze, adhesive dressings, sterile surgical catgut, sterile suture materials and sterile tissue adhesives for surgical wound closure, the primary purchaser and user is the Dominican government. For more technologically advanced surgical products, such as sterilizers, the most important purchasers are the private clinics.
2) Homecare Medical
The incidence of respiratory difficulties and diabetes, the aging of the Dominican population, and the CAFTA-DR free trade agreement are the primary factors behind the industry’s 10 percent growth over the next three years. The market for these products is almost entirely supplied by imports and U.S. products enjoy a positive receptivity (65 percent of the market).
3) Used/Refurbished Medical Equipment
The Dominican market offers opportunities to exporters of used and refurbished medical equipment, especially that which has been refurbished by the manufacturer, who can use original replacement parts and provide a limited guarantee. In addition, buyers of used equipment usually require assurances that parts and maintenance can be obtained locally. Therefore, American firms interested in this market should appoint a local distributor. The market for used devices (not refurbished) is limited to hospital furniture such as operating tables and hospital beds. There are good opportunities for these products, which do not always need to be refurbished and will generally be accepted with minor defects such as scratches and tears. The Dominican government does not impose restrictions on the importation of used/refurbished medical equipment. All imports of both new and used equipment are treated equally.
4) Diagnostic Equipment
Tomography equipment represents a very large percentage (approximately 69.1%) of the imports for diagnosis and imagery medical equipment, along with the corresponding supplies and spare parts.
Product registration in the Dominican Republic is an arduous exercise, and has to be requested by the local office of the foreign company, or its agent distributor. The registration takes approximately “90 days” to be completed after request.
There are no significant trade barriers. Registration of healthcare products is required for Drugs and Medical Devices only. The Dominican government institution responsible for issuing the Sanitary Registration certificates is the Department of Drugs and Pharmacies (Departamento de Drogas y Farmacias). For more information on the Sanitary Registrations American firms should visit: www.drogasyfarmacias.gov.do
Healthcare Procurement: http://www.msp.gob.do/oai/default.htm
Government Health Plans: http://www.msp.gob.do/oai/Documentos/Planes/Plan%20Operativo%20Anual%202016.pdf
Superintendence for Healthcare and Labor Risks: http://www.sisalril.gov.do
U.S. Commercial Service Contact Information
Name: Yira Roa
Position: Commercial Specialist
Phone: (809)567-7775 ext. 7336
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