MedTech Respiratory

How are U.S.-based ventilator companies doing?

The U.S. is one of many countries facing new restrictions, quarantines and, due to high demand, shortages of important medical equipment to help combat the coronavirus pandemic.

As hospitals and healthcare facilities report the need for more equipment, and with the government potentially invoking a statute that could ramp up protective equipment manufacturing even more, several companies, both in the medical space and outside it, have stepped forward to help.

This week, Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) announced that it will double its capacity to manufacture and supply ventilators. The Fridley, Minn.-based company doubled the number of shifts in manufacturing ventilators at its Galway, Ireland, manufacturing facility, bringing it to a 24/7 operation as additional staff is being transferred from other Medtronic sites to increase activities, according to a news release. The company said it is prioritizing high-risk/high-need areas for ventilator allocation on a weekly basis, but is monitoring the situation as it unfolds.

The medtech giant produces the Puritan Bennett 980 and Puritan Bennett 840 ventilators for high-acuity patients, including those with COVID-19. It also makes ventilators for the sub-acute segment for those out-of-hospital.

“Medtronic recognizes the demand for ventilators in this environment has far outstripped supply,” executive VP and president of Medtronic’s minimally invasive therapies group Bob White said in the release. “No single company will be able to fill the current demands of global healthcare systems. However, with all manufacturers increasing their production and through partnerships with governments, hospitals and global health organizations, Medtronic is committed to getting more ventilators into the market and to the right locations in the world to help doctors and patients dealing with COVID-19.”

Today, high-end ventilator maker Hamilton Medical updated its customers to inform them that it has increased its production capacity by 50% compared to last year. The Bonaduz, Switzerland-based company is aiming to double its production capacity by the end of April.

Royal Philips (NYSE:PHG) CEO Frans van Houten announced in a statement earlier this week that the company is taking measured steps to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. Those include setting up a central global task force and regional task forces to ensure customer needs are met, while also using the Philips Foundation to donate diagnostic imaging, patient monitoring and respiratory therapy equipment and supplies to the Thunder God Mountain Hospital in Wuhan, China, the origin of the virus. The foundation is also working with teams in heavily affected areas such as Kenya, South Sudan and Italy.

Since February, Philips has also ramped up its production in China, where it is above 80% capacity utilization. The increased demand for goods around the world has led to Philips work on increasing production of certain products at various manufacturing sites.

Seattle-based ventilator maker Ventec told The Seattle Times that it shipped 250 units of its deployable ventilators last month and is heightening production to potentially 1,000 per month in the next 90 days and 2,000 per month within 120 days. Ventec also reportedly plans to make an additional 100 hires to its current staff of 130.

Today, Park City, Utah-based PMT Partners announced that up to 1,000 of its Oxylator emergency ventilation/resuscitation devices are available immediately for clinical use.

The small, portable Oxylator runs on compressed oxygen or air, not electricity, and is designed to deliver oxygen or air through a pressure-and-flow sensing system. PMT Partners president Larry Kronick said in a news release that more Oxylators will be made on market-based demand.

Chicago-based Vyaire Medical VP of corporate communications Cheston Turbyfill told The Desert Sun that the company has already doubled its production and will have to push it even further. According to the report, the ventilator-maker is hoping to double its workforce soon as the pandemic rolls on.

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