In the wake of Dow Corning's bankrupting experience with silicone gel breast implants, the medical plastics industry is now undergoing a renaissance. Medical plastics are a $1 billion a year market and demand is growing at 10 to 20 percent a year.
Driving this growth are the demands of an aging population for implantable medical devices, such as artificial hips and knees, according to an article published in Chemical & Engineering News.
The demand continues to rise for devices incorporating plastics such as artery-opening stents, heart pacemakers, and other products that improve quality of life for an aging population. To meet this growing need, medical device makers are creating new types of implants with novel properties, writes C&EN senior correspondent Marc S. Reisch. New legal protections for plastic material makers that weren't available a decade ago also fuel the industry's growth, he notes.
In the article, Reisch interviews both new and established companies about the current state of the medical plastics industry. He finds that some larger companies are still reluctant to enter the medical device market because of its potential legal risks, while some smaller companies are aggressively forging ahead to tap into its promises.
Others see great opportunities in providing the raw materials for making the devices without becoming directly involved in their manufacture. Nevertheless, the medical plastics industry appears to be on a big rebound.
The article "Medical polymers renaissance" was published November 5, 2007 in C&EN.
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