The use of plastics
in medical applications is expected to continue its steady growth as
new polymers edge out metals, ceramics, and other traditional
materials. Innovative materials are replacing the conventional ones
such as PVC. Medical devices are becoming smaller and lighter but
have performance advantages over much larger and more expensive
The following facts
indicate the recent trends in the field of Plastics used for medical
Medical devices are
becoming lighter, more portable and more user-friendly, with more
A steady stream
of new and innovative medical devices has been made possible by
advanced polymer research. A study from Kalorama Information
titled "Advanced Polymers for Medical Applications"says
that applications with the most potential for growth include
tissue engineering and transplant medicine, devices that deliver
pharmaceuticals, and specialized polymer coatings that allow for
more complex, device design.
polymers are now capable of biological processes and can become a
functional part of living organisms.
Sullivan expects overall growth in the medical device market,
predicting that the U.S.
medical market will grow 7.7% this year, to $59.8 billion, and
climb to $ 70.3 billion in 2005.
A report titled
Plastics for Medical Devices from Business Communications Co.
(BCC) predicts styrenics,
engineering resins, and thermosets will grow by 6% to 6.5%
annually in the U.S. through 2004.
BCC forecasts a
"Slight shift" from commodity thermoplastics to
engineering resins, styrencis, thermosets, and TPEs, noting that the
fastest growing market will be for TPEs. Major
nondisposable markets include testing / diagnostic equipment,
surgical instrument and related equipment, prostheses / implants,
and dental / ophthalmics. Disposable products include syringes,
labware, tubing, blood bags, utensils, gloves, trays, and
catheters. The report lists the following primary issues
affecting the growth of medical plastics.
* Effects of
AIDS and other infectious diseases;
* Changing FDA
* The trend
toward "defensive medicine" resulting from increased
* Aging U.S.
technologies such as diagnostic imaging, laser surgery;
* polymers with
improved biocompatible properties;
* the continued
drive toward industry cost containment; and
* recent emphasis
on PVC alternatives.
U.S. market for disposable medical supplies, now at $48.6 billion,
is expected to grow 6% annually through 2005, according to
research from the Freedonia Group in its report.
Medical Supplies to 2005.
Gains will be led
by prefilled inhalers and prefilled syringes; transdermal patches;
and hematology, nucleic, and immunochemistry diagnostics It notes
that home health care will
be the fastest-growing market as consumers broaden self-treatment
and preventive medicine activities.
(Abstracted from an
article by Mr. Richard Stewart as published in "PlASTICS
ENGINEERING", April 2003 )
developments in medical materials by leading manufacturers........