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March 27, 2009

Opportunities during this economic downturn

SURVIVORS MAKING THE MOST OF THE RECESSION: The economic downturn, combined with interest on the part of hospitals and device makers to reduce liabilities, risks and costs, is creating opportunities for some materials companies that supply the medical industry. "The impact of downsizing is helping materials suppliers," said Larry Johnson, marketing director of health care for PolyOne Corp. The Avon Lake, Ohio-based company has grown its health-care materials business by 70% since the end of 2006 and expects to attain a 10%-plus growth rate in 2009 despite the rugged economic climate. Johnson said in an interview at Medical Design & Manufacturing West, held February 10-12, 2009, in Anaheim, that new opportunities are arising for materials suppliers that have weathered the economy so far, as some device makers need to replace companies that have gone out of business. Others are looking for marketing partnerships because they have reduced their own sales and marketing staffs.


The Breastlight in-home diagnostic device from PWB Health Ltd. allows women to perform breast exams at home. The portable device, made using Sabic compounds for the lens and housing, is one example of the rising demand for home health-care products.

PolyOne is in discussions with six or seven other companies on marketing partnerships, according to Johnson. "These companies still need to market even though they have downsized, so companies have asked us to form partnerships to market their products in health care," he said. Pressures to lower costs -- always present in the medical industry -- have accelerated because of the economy, providing materials suppliers with yet another boost. "Everyone is looking to take costs out, to make products lighter-weight and smaller, to use materials that reduce risks, and for products that increase the speed or throughput in providing hospital services," said Thomas O'Brien, industry manager for health care for Sabic Innovative Plastics US LLC in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. That creates the opportunity for material suppliers to provide resins for more in-home diagnostic devices, such as the Breastlight from Dumbarton, Scotland-based PWB Health Ltd., which uses Sabic compounds for the lens and housing and allows women to perform breast exams at home. The product is approved in Europe and Canada and is awaiting U.S. approval. "Home health care is really explosive," O'Brien said. "Things are becoming smaller and becoming more portable. It is all about throughput. Hospitals want to turn around patient care quicker and send people home with a portable testing or care device. The health-care trend is from in-patient to out-patient care and to devices that are portable, reliable, lightweight, durable and attractive.  " Plastics News, 03/02/09, p. 9 (PDF).


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Nice one Lew

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