The market for implantable medical devices will increase by 9.3% annually to reach $43.6 billion in 2011 and $67.3 billion by 2016, market researchers at the Freedonia Group suggest in a new report. Sales of drug-eluting coronary stents, despite recent setbacks, will grow by 11% annually, the Cleveland-based company estimates, and reach almost $7 billion and $11 billion by 2011 and 2016 respectively.

The report, Implantable Medical Devices, notes that product recalls and safety concerns, especially surrounding cardiac implants, weakened demand over the last few years. However, new technologies and improved materials should help improve outcomes. For example, thinner struts will enhance the safety and performance of drug-eluting coronary stents, lessening the risk of thrombosis. Freedonia estimated that cardiac stent sales were $1.52 billion in 2001, rising to $3.92 billion in 2006. They predict sales of $6.60 billion and $10.60 billion in 2011 and 2016 respectively.

The report also suggests that shortcomings in existing drugs will boost demand for implantable devices in cardiovascular, orthopaedic, neurological, ophthalmic and other chronic disorders. For example, in congestive heart failure, cardiac resynchronisation therapy devices (CRT-Ds) seem to improve outcomes compared with drugs. Freedonia suggests 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.

According to Implantable Medical Devices, cardiac implants will continue to take the lion’s share of the market. Nevertheless, other indications will also show large rises. Freedonia forecast that demand for orthopaedic implants will exceed $19 billion in 2011, up 8.8% from 2006. 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 more than 13% annually from 2006 led by implantable stimulators for neurological conditions (eg 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 implantable medical device industry in the USA 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. By Mark Greener