A lot of commonly used medical equipments is available for sale if you know where to find it. Buying used or refurbished equipment can be a cost-effective way to get equipment to work with. This equipment comes on the market by way of liquidation auctions and sale of equipment from facilities that are upgrading their hardware.
Purchasing directly from a manufacturer is sometimes difficult, especially if you do not have a doctor or medical facility purchasing for you. The other issue with buying from manufacturers is their understandable reluctance to sell their equipment into the industry or to a potential competitor. Some equipment companies tightly control their distribution, will not send you a catalog, or even let you browse their online catalog without you having to fill out a qualifying lead form.
If you have to have a particular piece of equipment that is not available on the used equipment market, it helps to have connections with a doctor or facility within that specialty to get it for you. Companies regularly purchase competitor’s equipment through friendly surrogates. Figure 7.7 Example of using an existing product (a rigid metal cannula) as a platform for an improved version. (Illustration by T. Kucklick. Courtesy of Cannuflow, Inc.) Copyright 2006 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC 178 The cheap medical equipment R&D Handbook Most used equipment dealers are good sources of capital and durable equipment such as RF generators, endoscopy units, arthroscopy units, and common surgical hardware like forceps and retractors. However, surgical disposables such as catheters, laparoscopic staplers, introducers, and so on, can be harder to find. The reason for this is that these items are packaged sterile and have a finite shelf life. Once the packaging expires, the device has little resale value to the reseller. This can be an advantage when looking for devices for parts. You may be able to buy expired disposables for a reasonable cost since you want to dissect them anyway. The disadvantage is that you are limited to whatever stock is on hand, when and if they have it.
The way resellers sometimes get their equipment is by purchasing a liquidation lot from a hospital that is closing or upgrading equipment. The reseller will buy a palette load or container load at auction, and some of these disposables can be part of the lot. Ask your reseller if it ever gets disposables like this bundled in a liquidation lot. Since the reseller may have a limited market for these, you may be able to get a good deal on them. An advantage to going through a reseller is that most devices are resold without many regulatory controls. You also do not need to deal with the sales and marketing departments of the manufacturer, who will want to know all about who you are before selling to you. If you need a specific piece of equipment, especially a newer item, be prepared to use your network to get it and pay list price for it. Another way to get equipment is from a doctor who has excess equipment or is upgrading. This is why it helps to have a physician on your board of advisors who is practicing in the specialty in which you are designing equipment. At least one member of your advisory board should be adept at getting for you whatever devices you need to study to do your product development.