The development and implementation of single-use, or disposable, medical devices is becoming more widespread. GlobalData has identified that disposable devices are being increasingly used at the expense of reusable counterparts across most markets and therapy areas. One of the major reasons for this shift has been to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and to reduce the logistics required to sterilise reusable equipment. Reasons not to use single-use devices include environment concerns (minimising the production of waste) and the generally cheaper costs associated with reusable devices.

While the Covid-19 pandemic negatively impacted many medical devices markets in 2020, sales for disposable endoscopes defied this trend and experienced significant year-over-year (YOY) growth. This is because the use of disposable devices decreases the spread of infectious diseases. For example, YOY sales of Ambu’s disposable aScope bronchoscope increased by 50% in 2020 because there was an increased need for bronchoscopes due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the dramatic rise for disposable bronchoscopes surpassed the increase in sales for reusable endoscopes. GlobalData determined that YOY sales for reusable bronchoscopes increased only 22.5% due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This highlights the utility of disposable scopes during times of high patient volume and turnover.

Sales for Ambu’s aScope disposable bronchoscope are growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 124%. Since 2014, there has been a 126-fold increase in sales of these disposable bronchoscopes. In contrast, GlobalData estimates that the global market for reusable bronchoscopes will grow at a rate of only 2.7% over the next ten years. Additionally, since the launch of Ambu’s aScope disposable rhinoscope in 2019, its sales grew by 441% in 2020 despite the Covid-19 pandemic. A 2017 study conducted by Perbet and colleagues and published in Annals of Intensive Care found that the cost of using Ambu’s single-use aScopes in intensive care units was not significantly higher than that of reusable scopes. This is because reusable scopes are associated with high costs for repairs and decontamination. This could explain the rapid update for disposable endoscopes at the expense of reusable scopes.

In December 2019, the FDA approved the first fully disposable duodenoscope, Boston Scientific’s EXALT Model D Single-Use Duodenoscope. This scope was granted Breakthrough Device designation, as it was the first and only single-use duodenoscope on the market approved in the US. Ambu launched its aScope disposable duodenoscope in 2020 and plans to release the aScope Duo2 in 2022.

GlobalData estimates the global value for 11 reusable endoscope markets to have been worth $6.76bn in 2020, growing at a CAGR of 7.5%. GlobalData expects the recent and future releases of multiple disposable endoscopes to act as a major disruptor to reusable endoscope markets. Companies that manufacture reusable endoscopes should expedite R&D related to the ease of re-sterilisation or begin to manufacture disposable endoscopes in order to remain competitive.