Companies in the medical equipment and supplies industry develop, manufacture, and market items such as medical and dental instruments, supplies, latex gloves, gauze,surgical equipment, syringes, respiratory care equipment, wheelchairs, X-ray and other types of diagnostic equipment, laser systems, stints, artificial joints, pacemakers and hospital uniforms. Such products are used by hospitals, physician and dental clinics, surgery centers, and long-term care facilities. Medical equipment and supplies companies do not manufacture pharmaceuticals or vaccines. The medical equipment and supplies manufacturing industry in the United States includes 12,000 companies with combined annual revenue of nearly $50 billion. The demand for medical equipment and supplies is growing in the U.S., and the industry is typically not impacted by economic downturns because health care is a necessary expense for most consumers.
The growth of the industry is currently being influenced by the aging population, people living longer, health needs changing, and a changing mindset on how and where seniors will be treated. Hospitals, the largest and most diverse market for medical equipment and supplies, are projected to account for more than 43 percent of the demand by 2011. In addition, home health-care equipment and supplies are expected to become one of the fastest growing segments of the industry, especially for disposable medical supplies such as latex gloves, gauze, syringes, bandages, face masks, disinfectants, and medical waste disposal products.
The demand for such products is expected to grow 4.9 percent annually between 2006 and 2011 to become a $70.4 billion industry by 2011. Another factor contributing to the growth of the medical equipment and supplies industry is the high incidence of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, and patients who need continuous therapy, such as patients with kidney disease who require dialysis. It is estimated that diabetes accounts for more than $130 billion of total health care spending in the U.S. annually, and the market for diabetes diagnostic, blood glucose monitoring, and treatment devices is expected to continue to grow. The market for cardiac equipment and heart-related valves, stints and defibrillators is also predicted to have strong growth. A third factor which is expected to contribute to the growth of the industry is the increasing popularity of plastic surgery and other types of cosmetic treatments which use disposable medical supplies. As the population ages and as advanced in technology has made treatments less invasive, more Americans are electing to have plastic surgery.