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Medtronic: Leading the pack in medical device manufacturing


March 24, 2005
Copyright © 2005 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Every day, people around the world suffering from disorders and diseases such as prostate problems, diabetes, and heart conditions benefit from medical devices and therapies that originated in Puerto Rico. As part of Medtronic, the world’s leading medical technology company, Medtronic Puerto Rico Operations Co. (MPROC) strives to provide lifelong solutions for people with chronic diseases and conditions and find innovative new therapies that support its mission to "alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life."

The multinational medical technology giant battles a wide array of maladies from sinusitis to Parkinson’s disease and cancer, while its Puerto Rico operation focuses on the development of products in four key areas including Cardiac Rhythm Management, Gastroenterology & Urology, Neurology & Diabetes, and Spinal technologies. The local operation, established in 1974, has 2,000 employees working in its three facilities in Puerto Rico. As part of Medtronic’s steady growth through the years, its local operation has evolved from being primarily a high-volume manufacturer of cardiac rhythm management devices, such as pacemakers, defibrillators and leads, to becoming a major player in the development of neurological, spinal and diabetes devices.

In the area of Cardiac Rhythm Management, Medtronic develops products that restore and regulate heart rhythm, as well as improving the heart’s pumping function. It produces implantable pacemakers, defibrillators, cardiac ablation catheters, monitoring and diagnostic devices and cardiac resynchronization devices. It also markets automated external defibrillators. Through its neurology and diabetes business segment it offers therapies for movement disorders, chronic pain, and diabetes, as well as diagnostics and therapeutics for urological and gastrointestinal conditions. The spinal segment focuses on the treatment of a variety of disorders of the cranium and spine including trauma-induced conditions.

According to Manuel Santiago, senior director and general manager of MPROC, the company’s three facilities in Villalba, Humacao and Juncos house more than 400,000 square feet of manufacturing and administrative space. Not long ago its Villalba operation underwent a $28 million expansion that increased its physical space by 150,000 square feet and its workforce by 25%. The three-building complex manufactures electrodes for pacemakers as well as catheters and neurological products. It also houses a state-of-the-art Implant Simulator Training Center for physicians and healthcare professionals, which is the only one of its kind on the island.

During last year alone, Medtronic attained FDA approval on a number of groundbreaking medical products, including its InSync Sentry System, the world’s first implantable cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator system that offers automatic fluid-status monitoring of the thoracic cavity. The advance provides a critical advantage in managing heart failure, since thoracic fluid accumulation is a primary indicator of worsening heart failure. The company also got the FDA’s nod of approval on the Medtronic StimPilot System, which is designed to help in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and dystonia patients by making deep brain stimulation surgery simpler and more efficient. In the meantime, Santiago says Medtronic has continued its work on other exciting and promising developments, including its Endeavor Drug Eluting Coronary Stent Program.

Besides his assertion that every six seconds a Medtronic device or therapy improves the life of a person somewhere in the world, Santiago says he is also proud of Medtronic’s longstanding tradition of giving back to the community. The company accomplishes its mission of good corporate citizenship largely through its Medtronic Foundation, which manages its philanthropic efforts. Over the years, the corporation has contributed more than $220 million to communities worldwide. From May of 2003 to April of 2004, the multinational corporation donated $40.2 million to various foundations, and locally MPROC has made unique contributions in the areas of health, education, arts, culture, and human services. All these have been centered around its goals of improving the health of people with chronic diseases, educating future generations of scientific innovators, and enhancing communities.

"Medtronic is passionate about improving the health of people and communities around the island, and its philanthropy reflects that passion," said Santiago. Over the last year, MPROC, through the Medtronic Foundation, granted $90,000 to support initiatives of the Alianza para un Puerto Rico sin drogas, the American Red Cross-Puerto Rico Chapter, the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, and the Puerto Rico Agricultural Extension Service, among others. Besides its foundation grants, the local operation also made contributions to schools, social, cultural and sports programs, and various organizations and institutions that provide service to local communities.

MPROC’s leader is both enthusiastic and optimistic about the company’s future. "We anticipate that overall corporate earnings will increase by 15% annually," said Santiago. "We have numerous new product initiatives underway, which will fuel growth in terms of not only revenue but also in the number of employees."

Founded in 1949, the Minnesota-based Medtronic has approximately 32,000 employees, does business in more than 120 countries, and has scientific research, manufacturing, education and sales facilities around the world. Its revenue for 2004 was $9.087 billion and its New York Exchange ticker symbol is MDT.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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