Measure of the market

Jan. 1, 2010
The year 2009 has been "another bad year for cosmetic and elective medical procedures," according to Tom Hausken, Director of Optoelectronic Components at the market research firm Strategies Unlimited (Mountain View, CA).

The year 2009 has been "another bad year for cosmetic and elective medical procedures," according to Tom Hausken, Director of Optoelectronic Components at the market research firm Strategies Unlimited (Mountain View, CA). On the other hand, he notes, revenues for biomedical and analytic instrument vendors, which are more resistant to economic factors, "were up this year in the high single digits to double digits." (Though Hausken points out that exchange rates and corporate mergers are important factors in his analysis.) In fact, Strategies Unlimited's research demonstrates that biomedical equipment has been more stable than most equipment in the optics and photonics market overall.

Dr. Hausken's presentation at the upcoming Laser Focus World Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar on January 25–set to follow the Biomedical Optics Symposium (BiOS) at Photonics West–will cover bio-optics equipment in two segments: the medical and aesthetic market (including ophthalmic and therapeutic lasers, including those for surgery and cosmetic procedures), and the instruments and sensors area (which is composed mainly of commercial bioanalytical and diagnostics systems such as flow cytometers, microscopes, DNA sequencers, and MALDI-TOF systems).

Up with analytics, not electives

Hausken reports that the bioanalytical instrumentation market has benefited from steady government R&D, which is relatively recession proof and has even grown given new National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiatives. The segment was also boosted by an increased interest in food safety, and concomitant spending on instruments for testing–among other influences.

According to Strategies Unlimited, the largest segment in medical lasers is for elective procedures, including cosmetic–for instance hair, wrinkle, tattoo, and varicose vein removal; and vision correction. These are all affected by the economy. And despite the trend toward over-the-counter devices for in-home cosmetic treatments, "handheld home appliances are not moving forward" as expected. Although the FDA made its first approval of a home-based wrinkle-removal product this year, the agreement between device maker Palomar and Johnson & Johnson to market the product fell through–and other agreements (Solta Medical-Philips, Syneron/Candela-Proctor & Gamble) are progressing slowly, if at all.

As recently as Q2 2008, revenues for seven laser-based medical system companies (Biolase, Candela, Cutera, Cynosure, Iridex, Palomar, and Syneron) totaled nearly $200 million (combined revenues for these seven have been between 150 and 200 million since Q2 2006). But since then they have dropped–to around $100 million–though Hausken suggests that there may be an uptick when Q4 2009 sales are totaled due to seasonal sales. The picture is not yet rosy, though. "Our estimate is that these companies will end up -33% in 2009," Hausken notes–while indicating that the situation for ophthalmic laser systems is no better.

Of course Hausken's presentation is set against a backdrop of the dismal macroeconomic situation–which Strategies Unlimited forecasts will improve in 2010.

About the Author

Barbara Gefvert | Editor-in-Chief, BioOptics World (2008-2020)

Barbara G. Gefvert has been a science and technology editor and writer since 1987, and served as editor in chief on multiple publications, including Sensors magazine for nearly a decade.

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