Since the pandemic broke out in early 2020, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a first-aid technique used to offer patients prolonged respiratory and cardiac support, has attracted significant attention for its high price tag. On January 4, China’s first domestic ECMO equipment was approved for public sale.
After examination, China’s Medical Products Administration urgently approved the application of Shenzhen Chinabridge Medical Technology Co., Ltd. for extracorporeal cardiopulmonary support auxiliary equipment and disposable membrane oxygenator kits. These products have independent intellectual property rights, and their performance basically reaches the international level of similar products.
The core components of ECMO are membrane lungs and blood pumps, which play the role of replacing lungs and hearts, respectively. ECMO is known for being life-saving, miraculous and extremely expensive. The price of an ECMO device usually ranges from 1 million yuan to 3 million yuan ($145,878 – $437,636). According to a procurement announcement on June 23, 2022, Huashan Hospital spent 2.5 million yuan on one set of ECMO. In addition to the procurement cost, the equipment requires expensive auxiliary devices during operation.
According to Chinabridge Medical, the average price of using a set of ECMO equipment for patients is 50,000 yuan, and the daily treatment cost is about 10,000-20,000 yuan, which will last one or two weeks, causing the total cost to be as high as 200,000 yuan.
The approval of Chinabridge Medical’s ECMO products represents a key step in China’s efforts to end its total dependence on imports of the technology. In fact, Chinabridge Medical is a company that has only existed for more than four years. It was founded in May 2018 by medical technology experts studying in Germany. In July 2022, it completed A-round financing of over 100 million yuan, with Shenzhen Capital Group as the leading investor.
The growth of Chinabridge Medical is inextricably linked both with Germany and with many core technologies in the ECMO field. In April 2020, Chinabridge Medical cooperated with an innovative R&D team of advanced life support from Germany to develop a life first aid system called Lifemotion.
According to information released by Chinabridge Medical in November 2019, Liu Yang, the current chairman of Chinabridge Medical, is also director of the China Project Department of the Germany-China Medicine Association. Close cooperation with the German scientific research team may be the key reason why Chinabridge Medical has been able to catch up in the ECMO field.
Since 2022, Chinabridge Medical’s ECMO system has carried out more than 10 clinical trials in many hospitals in Beijing, Sichuan, Guangdong and Jiangsu. The second-generation ECMO system of Chinabridge Medical is also under development. The company has 53 patent applications, including more than 20 utility patents and more than 20 invention patents. 2022 is the year in which the company applied for the most patents.