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LONDON -- Low awareness among hospital personnel and inadequate implementation of infection control guidelines have heightened the incidence of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). This, in turn, is generating a real and urgent need for appropriate disinfection and sterilization safeguards.
It is estimated that nearly 15 percent to 30 percent of HAIs can be prevented by improved decontamination procedures. More frequent decontamination cycles and the use of superior products to ensure efficient and accelerated decontamination are set to spur the degree of technology development that meet these needs.At the same time, the importance of effective decontamination procedures has been underlined due to clinical evidence that viruses such as vCJD can be transmitted through unsterilized equipment.
The continuing challenge to achieve non conventional transmissible agent (NCTA) or prion inactivation capability together with the emergence of newer kinds of viruses such as the vCJD and the spongiform viruses are creating opportunities for further R&D, comments Frost & Sullivan healthcare analyst Aarati Ajay. To succeed, companies can investigate chemistries that have a broader range of virucidal action.
Overall revenues of the European disinfection and sterilization equipment market are forecast to expand from USD $549 million in 2004 to USD $708 million in 2011. Apart from the impetus provided by improved infection control measures, standardization of norms is also set to spur market growth. As hospitals strive to satisfy the standards set by the ISO and other European norms, a uniform code of business, which maintains the stringent levels of quality and performance are set to emerge and provide opportunities for companies that fulfill such regulatory requirements.
The growing popularity of minimally invasive procedures is also likely to support market expansion. Here, demand for equipment needed to disinfect the sophisticated instruments used in such procedures is likely to rise over the medium to long term. In particular, the washer disinfector and the automated endoscope reprocessor segments are expected to benefit from the move towards minimally invasive surgeries.
With a contribution of 29 percent, steam sterilizers comprise the largest revenue-generating segment in the overall market, closely followed by washer disinfectors. The fastest growing segments are expected to be the automatic endoscope reprocessor market with a compound annual growth rate of 9.3 per cent over 2004-2011, followed by plasma sterilizers.
A mature market, the emphasis has been on development rather than innovation. While significant growth opportunities exist in areas such as automatic endoscope reprocessors, the market for central sterilization equipment (steam sterilizers, formaldehyde sterilizers and plasma sterilizers) is likely to be relatively stagnant since these are capital equipment with longer replacement periods.
These sectors can maintain, or perhaps increase, their growth curves by customizing products and services that meet the need of newer, niche markets such as that of dentists and private clinics, advises Ajay. Achieving representation in regulatory committees to address issues critical to the entire industry and pushing for standardized norms are also likely to sustain market growth.
New entrants currently face a highly saturated market, widespread market consolidation and established participants in geographic regions and product segments. Moreover, rampant price undercutting has resulted in undue prominence given to technology development rather than research, triggering market stagnation. The lack of product differentiation presents another major competitive challenge. For new participants, high entry barriers and risks abound, unless they can offer highly innovative products.
Market leaders in most segments, such as Getinge AB., MMM MÃ¼nchener Medizin Mechanik GmbH, Belimed, Matachana, Cisa s.r.l and Aesculap AG (B.Braun) have a very strong European presence owing to strong domestic bases.
To meet this competitive challenge, new companies should concentrate on untapped markets. There are opportunities in certain regions, such as eastern Europe, where the markets have either less focus on infection control, or which have not had sufficient thrust towards technology advancement, says Ajay. Simultaneously, major participants can enter strategic alliances to create products for niche segments and sustain market growth.
Source: Frost & Sullivan