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The obesity medical device industry is expected to experience significant change in the near future, as new products come to market, older products see a decline in sales, physician adoption increases worldwide, and supporting device reimbursement is put in place. While bariatric surgery techniques have demonstrated notable improvements in safety and efficacy compared with years prior, aversion to intervention has curbed operation prevalence to less than 1% of suitable obese candidates. Moreover, diabetes indications further drive obesity medical devices sales by lowering the threshold body mass index for patients to receive implantation and this can often necessitate intervention. With limited options in regards to pharmacotherapy, and near-unanimous disinclination to surgery, there is a void in treatment options, and medical devices are up for substantial adoption.
Physicians think that while surgical procedure volumes remain low, the number of physicians performing these surgeries is small as well, which will drive minimally invasive device sales. Device use is ideal for treating patients who wish to lose weight, but are not morbidly obese surgical candidates.
The incapability of surgeons to operate on the numbers that they want to will drive device sales, there is still a very important gap for patients who have a BMI between 30 and 40, because they are not surgical candidates, there is the endoscopic [device] field. While device use has increased in recent years, procedures are still expensive and reimbursement is still lacking, which has been a major barrier to device adoption.
Most people can’t afford to pay for a device out of pocket, so insurance reimbursement is a pretty critical issue for treatment of obesity. A lot of: device adoption has to do with reimbursement issues.”
Research company Global Data expects, that despite the minimal reimbursement currently, the compensation for medical devices in the near term, will improve.
“When Insurers incorporate the coverage of the surgery, they have to include all the different risks of surgery, so for the insurance companies, device use is cheaper and better. They know that, but they are not forced by law now to provide reimbursement, so it’s a matter of time.”
Open surgery and laparoscopic procedures leave scars and can be complicated with bleeding and infection; as a result, transoral, incisionless devices have seen a dramatic rise in use.
There’s been some desire to have procedures that are less invasive, don’t leave scars, have lower complication rates than current procedures. Now that’s what would increase sales.
New device sales are driven by waning interest in currently approved devices, such as the non-adjustable intragastric balloon, which has mixed effectiveness in the long term. The balloon isn’t going to be effective in overly obese patients, not in this lifetime.
Next-generation technologies in gastric stimulation previously showed poor efficacy, but recent improvements in design are making these devices increasingly competitive.
If we progress with gastric stimulation, it probably is one thing that could pick up in the future. If gastric stimulation already worked, it would probably be a better preferred procedure.
According to Frost & Sullivan, “The growth is expected to continue with innovations in marketing techniques, development of ergonomic instruments coupled with growth in new procedures”.