SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China has halted an anti-dumping investigation into European and Japanese makers of blood dialysis equipment, ending a six-month probe that had extended to the Chinese market leader, Germany's Fresenius Medical Care (FMC) AG & Co KGaA.
The investigation, launched in June, was a potential challenge to the international firms who currently dominate the global and Chinese dialysis market. Beijing said at the time it would examine any negative impact on Chinese rivals.
"The Ministry of Commerce will from today halt the anti-dumping investigation into hemodialysis devices imported from the European Union and Japan," the ministry said in a short statement on its Internet site on Wednesday.
The statement added that a local dialysis kit maker which had initially requested the investigation had asked for the case to be dropped earlier this month.
Foreign firms dominate China's dialysis market, with around three-quarters of the devices used in the country in 2012 imported, according to consultancy Research in China. The United States, Europe and Japan are the major sources of supply.
An FMC spokesman said earlier this year that the firm, which controls close to half of the Chinese market for blood dialysis machines, had been part of the anti-dumping probe.
Kidney disease is a growing problem in China due to the country's aging population. Around 120 million patients suffer chronic kidney disease in the country, according to a 2012 paper in medical journal The Lancet.
A smaller number of patients with severe forms of disease may require dialysis.
Officials at local Chinese firms previously told Reuters the probe could help break the hold of global rivals on the market.
FMC and its U.S. rival Baxter International Inc, which owns Sweden-based dialysis kit maker Gambro, each hold around 30 percent of the global market.
Japanese firms, including Nikkiso Co Ltd and Nipro Corp, are the closest rivals to their U.S. and European counterparts.
Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell