Ventilators have played dramatic roles in the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, from saving lives in the intensive care unit (ICU) to becoming a political football as pressure on the supply line mounted, to featuring in feel-good stories of corporate cooperation and overcoming challenges. While the headlines have subsided, however, the effects of such challenges have not yet dissipated.

Prior to the onset of Covid-19, the ventilator market had seen stable growth, with several established leaders like Dragerwerk, Getinge, Hamilton Medical, Medtronic, Philips Respironics and GE Healthcare. The number of patients requiring ventilators exploded as the first wave of the pandemic hit, and what had been a stable supply chain for years became a healthcare bottleneck in a matter of weeks.

Companies with engineering expertise and available production capacity partnered with existing ventilator manufacturers to produce emergency ventilators and accessories to help meet the unprecedented demand. Notable among these many organisations were Formlabs, Ford Motor Company and NASA. Such equipment is subject to an emergency use authorisation (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is unlikely to have a significant impact on the supply chain once emergency measures have been lifted.

GlobalData expects the fresh stockpiles of this life-saving equipment, alongside improving clinical outcomes for Covid-19 patients, to cause a lag in demand. For a market that has seen explosive growth, this lag is a perfect opportunity for strategic changes. New products leveraging the lessons learned from corporate partnerships and the sheer scale of patients last year are a natural way forward for established market leaders like Getinge.

Getinge announced on 22 April that three such products have received FDA clearance, including one specialised for use during a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure. In the announcement, Getinge North America president Eric Honroth reiterated the company’s commitment to supporting both clinicians and patients, with a specific focus on optimising lung protection and delivering personalised ventilation solutions.

This announcement, along with an earlier FDA clearance in February for a lightweight ventilator from Inovytec, is a sign of where the market is headed. There will be more such clearances from major players in the coming months, and with these new products will come a shift in the market.  Expect strong growth in market share for innovative ventilator products and the companies that produce them once demand normalises.

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