Saturday, 23 September 2023

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Medical Device Industry in Memphis Area

Medical device companies provide various products for medical application. The word "device" can be anything that is related to the medical field. These products can range anywhere from Band-Aids and test kits to more complex products such as prosthetics and programmable pacemakers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) controls and regulates medical devices since they deal with health and human services. The FDA describes a medical device as "an instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, contrivance, implant, in vitro reagent intended for use in the diagnosis of disease, prevention of disease, or intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals" (AboutFDA/default.htm). Medical device companies have created a multibillion dollar industry selling products that are a necessity to the world. Some of these companies include: Johnson & Johnson, Zimmer and Biomet, Medtronic, Smith & Nephew, Stryker, and Wright Medical Group. These companies, specifically, specialize in orthopedic medical devices. Within this list of companies, three of them are located in Memphis, Tennessee, i.e., Medtronic, Smith & Nephew, and Wright Medical Group.

Memphis opened a wide range of opportunities for these medical device companies because it is known as the shipping capital of the world mainly because FedEx is based here. FedEx is an American multinational courier delivery services company who delivers over 1.25 billion packages annually. They picked Memphis because it is in a central location within the United States and the airport is rarely closed due to bad weather. Another reason why medical device companies would be attracted to Memphis is because it is home of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, and Methodist University Hospital which all can be described as world-class medical centers. Senior Vice President of economic development for the Greater Memphis Chamber, Mark Herbison, describes the attraction for these large corporations to be drawn to Memphis when he says, "We've become the distribution center for the orthopedic industry because of the latest cut off times for next-morning delivery in the country as well as being a major player in the industry which will continue to grow because we offer the lowest costs" ( This can be especially helpful for medical device companies, who are located here, because sometimes surgeons are in need of time-sensitive products. For example, let's say if a patient on the west coast needs a hip implant by the next morning, a medical device company that is in Memphis will be able to deliver the next day. You can see how this is extremely helpful according to Medtronic's spokesperson, Victor Rocha, when he states, "The ability to hear about a critical surgery late in the afternoon from one of our sales reps in a hospital and to get our technology into the surgeon's hands the next day is crucial" ( Another thing that gives Memphis-based companies a huge advantage is the lower costs on shipping which can beat other places like California by a third. Memphis also provides these distributors credits to offset sales tax for equipment and machinery, property taxes can be reduced for up to fifteen years which allows firms to reduce their property tax liability by 80% and gives a franchise tax credit of $5,000 for each new job created ( The city also encourages medical device startups and will even give them up to $100,000 in grants through a program called, 'Zero to 510 medical device accelerator program.'

Memphis is not only an advantage to medical device companies, but instead medical device companies are an advantage for Memphis. The medical device industry has brought over a thousand jobs a year to the city. Employment has grown about 50% in the past decade which is more than four times the national rate of growth. The county itself is the second largest in the United States for manufacturing orthopedic devices ( Currently, there are about forty-two medical device manufacturers located in Shelby County. Smith & Nephew is currently employing more than 2,000 people. This brings so much opportunity for Memphis residents, students, and professionals. Bob Michaels, a writer for MDDI Online, explains how Memphis is dedicated to promoting long-term economic development and job creation when he says, "And the nonprofit organization Life Science Tennessee—whose members include universities, device companies, research institutions, economic development groups, government, and industry associations—seeks to grow the life science industry at the state level through advocacy, education, partnerships, and economic and workforce development initiatives" ( With this promoting, a special council, the Greater Memphis Medical Device Council, has been formed and their mission statement is: "… to create a successful collaboration among biomedical member companies to identify shared employee development … This industry led initiative will guide an educational structure to effectively close the respective skills gap for all levels of biomedical careers" ( This is creating certain associations where medical device companies can come together to discuss and share different information and innovation. Another association is, the Memphis Research Consortium, are composed of local universities, medical device companies, hospitals, foundations, and other businesses. These different groups and associations are helping medical device companies to donate and support local universities in the area. Because of this help, colleges around the area have been able to produce about 2,250 bioscience graduates every year. They also want to help students in high school as well by providing training for them to enter the bioscience sector by supporting them.

The top five medical device manufacturers in the Memphis region are Medegen Medical, Wright Medical, Microport Orthopedics Inc., Medtronic Spinal, and Smith & Nephew Inc. These can be ranked by their full-time equivalent employees with Smith & Nephew being #1, Medtronic Spinal being #2, Microport Orthopedics Inc. being #3, Wright Medical being #4, and Medegen Medical being #5. All these companies combined make up nearly 5,000 local full-time employees. Smith & Nephew produces advanced wound management products, arthroscopy products, trauma and clinical therapy products, and orthopedic reconstruction products. Medtronic Spinal manufactures a whole range of products that are put into categories that are advanced surgical technology, cardiac rhythm, cardiovascular, diabetes, digestive and gastrointestinal, ear nose & throat, general surgery, neurological, patient monitoring, renal care, respiratory, spinal and orthopedic, and urological. Microport manufactures cutting-edge joint replacement implants such as hips and knees. Wright Medical produces upper extremities, foot and ankle solutions, biologics to aid in soft and/or hard tissue paper. Medegen Medical manufactures markets and distributes a wide range of single-use, disposable medical products. These can include: wash basins and bedpans, IV start kits, containment systems for medical waste, sterilization products dressing and surgical sponges, and laboratory products.

Medical device companies are very up and coming in the city of Memphis. The top five medical device manufactures mentioned above all chose to be in Memphis. They are benefitted by the central location, time-sensitive product delivery, and lower costs. Memphis is benefitted by the increase in employment and job opportunities. These companies and industry are bringing many opportunities for residents as well as students and professionals. With many organizations and associations, these companies can get connected to students and working professionals. This is a growing area for medical device companies as well as professionals.

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