On September 1, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) approved the use of 3D-printed hip implants. According to the South China Morning Post, the artificial hip joint was developed by a joint team of doctors and researchers from Peking University and a private Chinese medical company. Advancements in 3D-printing will help lower the cost of expensive joint replacement surgeries. The South China Morning Post reported that joint replacement surgeries have been increasing by more than 30 percent each year, with around 300,000 Chinese patients requiring hip replacements in 2014.
This regulatory approval is a major breakthrough for Chinese patients who previously had to purchase expensive, imported implants. According to a report in China’s People Daily newspaper, doctors expect that the new law will end foreign companies’ monopoly on high-end manufactured medical devices and significantly reduce the price for end-users. The CFDA’s approval of 3D-printed hip joints represents China’s first step towards incorporating new technology to improve device quality while reducing cost.
3D-printing technology has the potential to revolutionize the way that doctors personalize care for patients. By allowing doctors to design specific implants and prosthetics based on an individual’s needs, 3D-printing can save patients a considerable amount of money while still providing high-quality products. As doctors around the globe use the technology to customize everything from prescription glasses to hearing aids, China is looking to spur its own 3D-printing industry through product approvals and investment.