Trends being observed now in medical device manufacturing are expected to create an increase in the demand for sterile packaging through 2010, according to a report from The Freedonia Group. This article summarizes the findings of the group’s study.

By Bill Martineau
  • Pharmaceuticals and biologicals
  • Medical instrumentation
  • In vitro diagnostics
  • Surgical supplies

  • Sterile medical packaging demand will increase 6% annually to $4.4 billion in 2010. Consumption patterns and growth prospects will continue to vary widely among the various types and groups of sterile medical products. In most applications, packaging requirements will become more extensive as the healthcare community focuses increasing attention on infection prevention—in particular, the reduction of nosocomial infections in hospitals and other medical establishments.

    Reflecting trends in production volume and mix, product research and development, and government regulation, pharmaceuticals and biologicals will remain the largest and fastest growing application for sterile medical packaging. Demand in this product group will expand at 7.6% annually, reaching $2.4 billion in 2010, or 55% of the total market. Gains will partially reflect the increasing commercialization of new injectable and inhalation therapies based on biotechnology. Moreover, producers of sterile pharmaceuticals and biologicals are expected to upgrade packaging systems to enhance preparation and administration ease, provide greater quality assurance, and differentiate non-proprietary products from competitive offerings.

    Demand for sterile packaging in surgical and medical instrument applications is projected to reach $715 million in 2010, up 4.3% annually from 2005. This product group includes a broad range of sterile supplies and devices, including catheters, IV administration sets, hypodermic syringes and needles, standard and endoscopic surgical instruments, and orthopedic fixation devices. Generally, growth opportunities for these products will soften with advances in minimally invasive surgery and ongoing efforts to minimize the length of hospital stays. Accordingly, demand for related packaging products will advance at a below average pace.

    The in vitro diagnostic product market for sterile medical packaging will increase 3.9% annually to $452 million in 2010, following growth trends in the use of in vitro testing both within the health care sector and by other sectors such as law enforcement. Diagnostic test kits allow for early detection of diseases and illnesses and enhance therapeutic decision making by physicians and other healthcare professionals. Diagnostic packaging demand will be stimulated by the greater use of higher value-added reagents and consumables, particularly new immunoassay and nucleic acid products for AIDS and cancer detection. Advances in nucleic acid products will also promote the widening implementation of DNA testing in the law enforcement sector.

    Demand for sterile packaging in surgical appliance and supply applications will increase 4.2% annually to $365 million in 2010. Pouches will continue to generate the largest share of revenues based on low cost advantages, ease of sterilization, and improving properties. Surgical appliances and supplies typically packaged in sterile pouches include artificial joints, prosthetic devices, and surgical and wound dressings. In addition, these containers are used for smaller-sized surgical drapes and apparel.
    For additional information on the technologies and products discussed in this article, visit The Freedonia Group Inc. online at

    Bill Martineau is the health industry analyst for The Freedonia Group Inc. For over 20 years, he has written studies for Freedonia regarding pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, medical devices, implants, and medical packaging. He can be reached at 440-684-9600 or