KULIM: Intraocular lense (IOL) maker Abbott Medical Optics Ltd (AMO) will be investing US$60 million (RM192 million) to set up its first manufacturing facility in Malaysia.
Its global operations divisional vice-president Diane Beno said the plant at the Kulim Hi-Tech Park is expected to produce about one million IOLs per year for the global market in 2016 to cater to the growing number of cataract surgeries worldwide.
She said about 22.7 million cataract surgeries are forecast to take place in the world this year, and the number is expected to grow to 27.1 million by 2019.
“This growth will be driven primarily by the ageing population and the increasing worldwide demand for IOLs.
“There are some 22 countries where most of the cataract procedures are performed, each with more than 100,000 cataract surgeries per year, including Malaysia with approximately 105,000 surgeries projected to be performed this year,” she said.
Beno said AMO expects to see a growth of 4% in the next three years in the IOL market globally.
The Malaysian facility, located on a 21.6-acre (8.74ha) site in Kulim, will house state-of-the-art machinery to ensure that the quality of its products is similar to the IOLs produced at the group’s other plants in Anasco, Puerto Rico and Groningen, Netherlands, she said.
Speaking at the plant’s groundbreaking ceremony by Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir yesterday, Beno said the facility is expected to be ready for operations next year.
The California-based company is focused on delivering life-improving vision correction technologies, and also offers a comprehensive portfolio of cataract, refractive and eye care products.
Beno said when the plant is operational, it would employ about 500 people. In welcoming AMO’s first Asean base in Malaysia, Mukhriz said the IOL plant will complement the upcoming 660-acre Medical Science City project in Bandar Baru, located in the south of Kedah.
“We are happy [that] AMO chose Kedah. With its presence, we find that it fits in nicely with the strategy of attracting companies involved in medical sciences. We hope to set up a cluster of medical sciences industries in the science city park.
“The ecosystem created by these companies will make Kedah known as a medical science technology park,” Mukhriz added.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 11, 2014.