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Joan Trombetti, Writer | December 30, 2008
Massachusetts ranks third in medical
device industry employment
No one can say that the sales of medical devices in Massachusetts aren't helping the economy. In fact, there are more than 230 medical device manufacturers near Boston, generating more than $1 billion dollars.

The products manufactured include instruments used in heart or cataract surgery, needles, metal parts used in arthroscopic procedures to repair a damaged knee or shoulder joint, pumps designed to regulate the flow of insulin to diabetics, and sutures to repair wounds. These products tend to make their way through the federal FDA process more quickly than others because they are designed to meet specific life-saving demands.

Massachusetts rests in third place for overall medical device industry employment per 1,000 people. Minnesota is the leader with 4.4 medical device jobs per 1,000; Utah follows with 3.6; then Massachusetts with 3.2, according to a University of Massachusetts study.

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A report completed in 2007 by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute showed that medical devices are a major contributor to the Massachusetts economy, with $8.3 billion in output, and 49,595 jobs directly and indirectly related to the industry. Products are shipped all over the United States, with the largest overseas market in Western Europe -- 55.6% of production was exported in 2006, up 16.4% from 2004, to $1.2 billion.

The Donahue Institute also reported that the fast-growing South American market rose 26.2% over the same period, from $31.1 million in 2004 to $39.2 million in 2006. And, according to the study, 10% of all U.S. venture capital went to medical device firms. California's Silicon Valley received 38% of the capital, but Massachusetts snagged 11%, or $292 million.

A major contributer, Boston Scientific, has 25,000 employees. In November, the company received FDA approval for a new catheter to help physicians treat artery disease that could lead to heart attack or stroke.