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Medical-device sector offers growth, but high barriers to entry

By: Angie DeRosa

August 23, 2012

AKRON, OHIO (Aug. 23, 1:30 p.m. ET) — The global medical-device market is a potential gold mine for plastics processors who understand complicated dynamics and are willing to work within the high barriers to entry, according to a research report from Plastics News.

Each processing category in plastics manufacturing serves the medical-device sector, and there is opportunity for each process, especially with the impact of key trends in this growing market.

Top trends include value-driven engineering, combating health-care-acquired infections and an aging population with longer life expectancies. Breakthrough advancements, such as antimicrobial applications, are enabling manufacturers to provide products to patients that reduce recovery time and cause fewer post-operation complications.

Technology is being used throughout all parts of the supply chain to improve lives, including with 3-D printing.

The report, “Medical Device Market Review and Outlook 2012,” also highlights certain regions that have particularly strong dynamics, including China, India, Brazil and Costa Rica.

Costa Rica, for example, has been a hotbed of manufacturing activity for medical-device makers. According to the Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency, Costa Rica has positioned itself as a low-risk, cost-competitive location for manufacturing. The country has a population of 4.6 million and is host to more than 40 medical original equipment manufacturers, including Covidien, Boston Scientific, Baxter Healthcare and St. Jude Medical.

China has government mandates that will impact the growth of its domestic medical market. Legislation passed there in 2009 committed 850 billion yuan ($124 billion) to develop the country’s health-care system over a three-year period. The government’s goal is to achieve universal health care by 2020.

Further details on country-specific dynamics can be found in the report. In the United States, companies are up against meeting stringent Food and Drug Administration requirements, which can be time-consuming and costly. Time also will reveal the true impact of the medical-device tax outlined in the Obama Administration’s Affordable Healthcare Act.

Processing companies are dealing with the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, which is targeting a phaseout of PVC in certain product lines.

Medical Device Market Review and Outlook 2012

The 153-page market report assesses processors that currently serve the medical device market. Plastics News’  team targeted the top five by sales from the publication’s annual rankings. For example, the top injection molders include Nypro Inc., Tech Group Inc. and Phillips-Medisize Corp.

Film and sheet converters, tubing extruders, thermoformers, rotational molders and blow molders also are included.

The report also assesses the top global medical-device OEM companies. Those companies include Zimmer Holdings Inc., Biomet Inc., Roche Group and Olympus Corp.

Plastics News’  “Medical Device Market Review and Outlook 2012” can be purchased for $749 before Sept. 21. For information see www.plasticsnews.com/store.