The US market for implantable medical devices will increase by 9.3% a year to reach $43.6 billion in 2011 and $67.3 billion by 2016, market researchers the Freedonia Group suggest in a new report.

Sales of drug-eluting coronary stents, despite recent setbacks, will grow by 11% annually, reaching almost $7 billion and $11 billion by 2011 and 2016 respectively, the Cleveland-based company estimates.

The report, Implantable Medical Devices, notes that product recalls and safety concerns, especially surrounding cardiac implants, have weakened demand over the last few years. However, new technologies and improved materials should help improve outcomes, it predicts.

For example, thinner struts will enhance the safety and performance of drug-eluting coronary stents, reducing the risk of thrombosis. Freedonia estimate that cardiac stent sales were $1,520 million in 2001, rising to $3,920 million in 2006. They predict sales of $6,600 million and $10,600 million in 2011 and 2016 respectively.

The report also suggests that shortcomings in existing drugs will boost US demand for implantable devices in cardiovascular, orthopaedic, neurological, ophthalmic and other chronic disorders.

In congestive heart failure, for example, cardiac resynchronisation therapy devices (CRT-Ds) seem to improve outcomes compared with drugs. Freedonia forecasts that sales of all cardiac implants (including defibrillators, stents and pacemakers) will increase by 9.0% annually to $19.6 billion in 2011. Increased demand for drug-eluting coronary stents, carotid stents (to prevent stroke), endovascular stent-grafts (for aortic aneurysms), CRT-Ds, implantable heart monitors, and tissue heart valves will account for most of the growth.

Cardiac monopoly

According to Implantable Medical Devices, cardiac implants will continue to take the lion’s share of the US market. Nevertheless, other indications will expand rapidly, the report predicts.

Demand for orthopaedic implants will exceed $19 billion in 2011, up by 8.8% from 2006, Freedonia says. New, high value-added bone cements with wider clinical applications as well as tissue and spinal implants should show strong growth. Demand for other implantable medical devices will increase by more than 13% a year from 2006, led by implantable stimulators for neurological conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s disease), brachytherapy for prostate cancer, cochlear devices and gastric bands for obesity.

Implantable Medical Devices suggests that some 170 companies were active in the US sector during 2006. However, the ten largest companies accounted for 83% of US sales in that year. The top three - Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific – alone accounted for almost half of the total market.

Most leading companies initially focused on one or two product lines and diversified through internal development, acquisitions or collaborative agreements.