2020 Plastics Market Forecast: Healthcare

December 17, 2019 • Posted in Market Insights

Every December, M. Holland’s market managers take the time to reflect on the past year. What influenced and drove their market segments? What can the industry expect to see in the new year? Through early 2020, we’ll be sharing these insights and predictions to keep you informed of what all of our managers agree will be a transformative 2020 for each of the following markets:

We’ve seen advancement in medical plastics innovation throughout 2019, and there’s no sign of that slowing down in 2020. Josh Blackmore, our global healthcare market manager, discusses what’s ahead for healthcare in our first installment of the 2020 Plastics Market Forecast series.

Challenges and Opportunities in Healthcare: Supply Chain Risk, Regulatory Change, and Material Innovation

Device companies are addressing market challenges in their supply chain, leveraging innovative medical plastic resin technologies in new products, and shifting with changing regulatory and chemical sterilization requirements– generating exciting developments and new obstacles in the healthcare market. According to Blackmore, we can expect to see continued growth in the medical device and packaging industry. “This segment of the market will remain a profitable area of investment as the general and aging populations continue to increase, making healthcare a market capable of thwarting recession pressures.” He shares more insights into the healthcare market below:

“Looking towards 2020, I see last year’s trends, such as the utilization of 3D printing technologies, the coupling of electronics and plastics in monitoring and diagnostic devices, and supply chain disruption, continuing and, in some cases, deepening alongside new trends. Here’s what I’m predicting:

Supply Chain Risk: The number one issue for medical device OEMs is managing supply chain risk. In the past, challenges occurred in the form of hurricanes, floods, stock-outs, discontinuations, shortages, imports, and more. Supply chain disruption was a big trend in 2019, and it will continue to be in 2020. A heightened sense of concern around supply chain risks and disruptions will drive secondary material qualification on large programs, and requests for safety stocks. As a result, companies will increasingly leverage distribution partners to help optimize supply chains and mitigate risk.

Regulatory Environment: The European Union (EU) is in the final stages of implementing changes to medical device regulations, creating potential issues in obtaining device approval. With these changes, the EU will begin classifying some existing products that are already on the market – especially diagnostic devices– as new medical devices. This change means thousands of products will need to be re-submitted for device approval and could cause a shift in registering a device in the U.S. first in an international roll-out strategy.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is experiencing challenges of its own following the resignation of commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. Some speculate that the U.S. FDA and the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, a specialty branch of the FDA, may be ready for a major reorganization.

These specific global regulatory challenges, along with others, will be important for everyone to monitor as they relate to product creation and global go-to-market strategies.

Ethylene Oxide Sterilization Shortages: Concerns over emissions from ethylene oxide (EO) plants have caused several facilities to shut down, and are driving a shortage in the healthcare industry. EO sterilization accounts for approximately 48% of medical device sterilization procedures and is popular for materials that cannot withstand the temperatures in an autoclave. In 2020, this shortage of EO facilities will drive an increase in the use of gamma sterilization, which can alter the final properties of medical-grade resins. As OEMs shift to gamma sterilization, careful attention will need to be paid to medical resin selection to prevent device failure.

Robotic Surgical Procedures: Companies are increasingly using medical-grade resins to construct robots and the accompanying surgical tools. The robots’ exterior must withstand cleaning with aggressive hospital disinfectants and still provide protection for the medical electronics inside. Additionally, they require special surgical instruments, often made with single-use and disposable materials, that can be held and used by robotic hands. When viewed holistically, medical resins in commodities, ETPs, and compounds benefit from the growth of these trends.

Demand for Sustainable Material: The topic of sustainability has hit the medical device, packaging, and diagnostic markets as companies search for ways to recycle single-use medical devices and packaging. Many questions loom as hospital waste carries unique risks for collection, disposal, and recycling. It will be interesting to see how this topic of conversation evolves in 2020 as the healthcare industry works through the challenges and benefits of sustainability in an attempt to create a healthier and more sustainable world.”

Josh Blackmore M. Holland Plastic Resin Distributor – Authored by Josh Blackmore, Market Manager, Global Healthcare

In our next installment of the 2020 Plastics Market Forecast series, we will share insights from M. Holland’s 3D printing market manager and engineering consultant, Haleyanne Freedman. Stay tuned, and don’t forget to check back in for future market insights from our Wire & Cable, Electrical & Electronics, Rotational Molding, Color & Compounding, Flexible Packaging, and Automotive market managers.

What are you most excited about for plastics and the healthcare market in 2020? Let us know on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

If you enjoyed this article, take a look at M. Holland’s 2019 Market Trends Series:

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