Medical Device Dailys

Growth will be slashed by half for German med-tech in 2009 but will not stop, creeping up by 2% to 3%, according to Spectaris (Berlin), an industry association representing 160 companies in the medical technology sector.

"The industry will not quite escape from the financial crisis unscathed," said Spectaris CEO Sven Behrens, who added, "However, the effects will not be as serious as in other industries."

Behrens based his projections on a December survey of members, who were evenly divided over the question of whether they expected a serious decline in sales in the new year.

Spectaris reports 2008 sales among its members, which account for almost 40% of German med-tech revenues, will finish up 5% at €18.2 billion ($24.6 billion), down dramatically from the 8% growth for the year that Spectaris initially anticipated (Medical Device Daily, April 30, 2008).

The German med-tech industry, which exceeds the total sales of France, Spain and the UK combined, was running white-hot in 2007, reporting an 8.6% increase in sales for that year to €42 billion ($57 billion), according to Spectaris.

According to 72% of companies participating in the survey, med-tech employment will continue to increase, leading Spectaris to project growth of 4.6% to more than 99,000 employees among its members.

Germany has a pent-up demand for engineers that has been frustrated by national immigration policy (MDD, April 30, 2008).

Of the group's member companies, 85% do not expect the financial situation to have a huge impact on their business in the current year. Although somewhat more subdued about next year, they largely – by a ratio of almost two to one – said they do not anticipate serious sales declines in 2009.

Export sales are expected to decline in 2009, according to the Spectaris forecast, which points to a slackening demand from the U.S., which represents around 21% of total German exports.

Spectaris manufacturers generate more than 60% of sales from exports, and the fluctuations in the exchange rate between the euro and the dollar also will play a factor in the year's sales performance, according to the organization.

Behrens expressed optimism for med-tech manufacturers based on the bedrock assumption that a rapidly growing global population and democratic changes will sustain an increasing demand for products and services.

Prostatic stent gets CE mark

Allium Group (Caesarea, Israel), a maker of stents for the urinary, gastrointestinal, pulmonary and peripheral vascular tracts, said it has been awarded the CE mark for its prostatic stent, enabling commercialization of the system in the European Union and other countries that recognize the CE mark.

"We are excited about receiving the European CE approval for our Prostatic stent," said CEO Limor Domnitz Gishri. "This ... confirms the innovativeness and advantages of our stent technology and brings us closer to offering patients solutions that provide them with efficacious and immediate treatment, convenience, comfort and quality of life."

He noted that Allium "has had a great deal of success in Europe with [our] biliary and ureteral stents that received CE marks and begun to market in 2007, and we believe that our prostatic stent will quickly become the must have' solution for physicians and hospitals in Europe."

Allium's prostatic stents, used in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or advanced prostate cancer, have a triangular cross-section to match the contours of the prostatic urethral lumen and have the ability to exert varying degrees of radial force depending on the anatomy and function of this part of the male urethra. Higher radial force in its main body and lower radial force in the area near the external sphincter help prevent sphincteric dysfunction, causing incontinence.

"Today the leading treatment options for BPH demand continuous-treatment pharmacological or surgical interventions which become expensive and uncomfortable," said Professor Daniel Yachia, founder/chief scientific officer of Allium Medical. "Such treatments may result in undesirable side effects such as erectile dysfunction, retrograde ejaculation, and, at times, bladder control problems."

He added, "We ... worked closely with physicians on the development of this stent and understood the need for a new minimally invasive, reversible and non-surgical office procedure that they can offer their patients."

Allium's stents are being distributed through numerous partners in various European markets, including Italy, the UK, Germany and Austria, the Benelux countries, Spain, Greece, Scandinavia and South Africa.

Patients to have a say in improving GP services

More than 5 million patients in England are being asked for their views on how to improve family doctor services in a new survey launched by the UK government this month. Results from the national survey will be used to drive changes to general practitioner (GP) services and rewards for GPs who provide fast, convenient services.

This is the third year the UK Department of Health has run the GP patient survey, which focuses on patients' experiences of visiting a GP. In last year's survey, patients called for quicker access to GP appointments, in response to this over half of all GP practices now offer extended opening hours making it easier for patients to get appointments at times that suit them.

Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said, "The national GP patient survey last year gave 5 million people a chance to have their say on improving access to their GP. The NHS [National Health Service] listened and responded, and now over half of GP practices are making it easier for their patients to book appointments later in the evening, earlier in the morning or at the weekend."

Bradshaw said, "This new survey, with wider questions, will [that] ensure patients can have their say about the issues that matter most to them. Where patients identify areas for improvement, the local NHS will need to respond."