Feb 11, 2015

The UK Medical Device Market: A Snapshot

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As a recent article in The Economist points out, medical devices are far from being a new concept: in the year 2000, a three thousand year old prosthetic big toe was discovered grafted to the right foot of a female Ancient Egyptian mummy. It was beautifully crafted and painted to match her skin tone, in the same way as many of today's medical devices are designed to provide the patient with a sense of normality, as well as improving their quality of life and physical functionality.


Medical devices cover a vast array of high and low tech products, ranging from plasters and contact lenses through to mobile health apps, ultrasound units and replacement hip joints. All are regulated in the UK by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency). Yet, high tech or low tech, their common thread is they are designed to improve patient outcomes, and even some of the most basic in design can improve life immeasurably for the patient. Imagine a hospital without decent incontinence products, or the inability to replace joints such as the hip or knee, which have become worn or damaged relatively early in life.

The UK is the 6th largest medical device market in the world, and the 3rd largest in Europe. It was valued at $10.2 Bn in 2013 (the same size as the UK wedding market, or the UK online fashion market) and is projected to grow by 6.8% a year to reach $14.2 Bn by 2018.* Although the UK market is import-led, the UK is in the global Top 10 exporters; testament to our ability to innovate and grow markets against a background of strong R&D and solid regulation.

ROAD has worked on behalf of many companies to help communicate the benefits of their medical devices, such as Smith & Nephew's PICO wound management system. PICO involves a multi-layer adhesive dressing designed to promote healing, but what makes it particularly clever is the fact the dressing is combined with a pump small enough to fit into the patient's pocket to maintains negative pressure, helping to reduce infection.

Technologies like these, which have the potential to improve clinical outcomes as well as reduce the overall cost of treatment by preventing complications, are exciting many of the stakeholders and decision-makers involved in today's cost-conscious healthcare systems. We predict it is precisely this type of medical device that will contribute significantly to the 6.8% predicted growth per year in this market.

MEDICAL DEVICE: Any instrument, apparatus, appliance, material or other article, whether used alone or in combination, together with any accessories or software for its proper functioning, intended by the manufacturer to be used for human beings in the:

  • Diagnosis, prevention, monitoring, treatment or alleviation of disease, injury or handicap,
  • Investigation, replacement or modification of the anatomy or of a physiological process, or
  • Control of conception,and which does not achieve its principal intended action in or on the human body by pharmacological, immunological or metabolic means, but which may be assisted in its function by such means

*Statistics from http://www.espicom.com/uk-medical-device-market.html