In a risk-averse country such as Japan, where only 30% of diagnostic devices are manufactured domestically, a small Nagoya-based company made a bold bid just about 20 years ago. That is when Asahi Intecc Co. Ltd. decided to shift from manufacturing auto parts to making medical devices. It never looked back. Today it is Japan’s leading maker of PTCA (percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty) guiding catheters, with a domestic market share greater than 50%. The company currently distributes its medical devices to 85 countries.
Starting this year, Asahi Intecc will begin selling its neurovascular guidewires, which the company developed and launched in Japan a year ago, on a global basis. The new wires already have a 35% share of the domestic market.
“People ask me why Asahi chose the most challenging areas such as circulatory organ and cranial nerve [applications], but innovative devices cannot be created without taking risks,” says company President Masahiko Miyata. “We were confident that with our unique technologies, we could develop what Japanese doctors needed.”
Asahi Intecc was founded in 1976 by Miyata’s father to manufacture ultra-fine stainless-steel wire ropes used in automotive gas pedals, printer drivers and an array of industrial products. The company developed core technologies such as wire-drawing, wire-forming and surface treatment. This foundational know-how enabled Asahi Intecc to develop catheter guidewires with high torque, flexibility and resiliency, delivering a major breakthrough in CTO (chronic total occlusion) intervention.
As doctors wrote papers introducing new CTO therapy and performed interventions using Asahi guidewires, sales of the PTCA guidewires skyrocketed. “Top doctors are one of our strongest market forces,” laughs Miyata.
Today, nearly 90% of Asahi Intecc’s sales come from the medical sector. In addition to developing and manufacturing products under its own name, the company also offers its services on a contract basis to other medical device OEMs.
The company will demonstrate its neurovascular and peripheral models at MEDTEC Japan, which will take place in Yokohama, Japan, on 20 and 21 April.Miki Anzai