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Industry’s ‘Big Five’ are meeting medical demand

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The lion's share of titanium medical devices is provided by just five companies Zimmer Holdings Inc., Biomet Inc., DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., Stryker Corp. and Smith & Nephew Plc.

The "Big Five," as they're termed by Frank Perryman, president and chief executive officer of Houston, Pa.-based Perryman Co. and 2009-10 president of the International Titanium Association, account for the vast majority of artificial knees and hips manufactured in the United States. Three of the five are headquartered in Warsaw, a northern Indiana community of just 12,500 people half way between Fort Wayne and South Bend.

"We are the orthopedic capital of the world," said Garry Clark, director of public relations for Zimmer.

Clark said that Warsaw became a center for orthopedic devices in 1895, when Canadian entrepreneur Revra DePuy began manufacturing medical splints from the abundant hardwoods in the region. Justin Zimmer, one of DePuy's salesmen, broke from the parent company in the mid-1920s and began manufacturing aluminum splints.

Biomet, established in Warsaw in 1977, about the time that titanium first became prevalent in medical applications, was the third of the "Big Five" orthopedic medical device manufacturers to call Warsaw home, and Minneapolis-based Medtronic Inc. established a major presence in Warsaw in the 1990s with its spine and biologics division.

Stryker is headquartered in nearby Kalamazoo, Mich., while Smith & Nephew is based in England.


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