Looking beyond 2022, GlobalData anticipates that the medical device landscape will be less concerned about devices to tackle orthopaedic and infectious diseases while cancer will take an increasingly prominent role.

Long after the pandemic subsides, countries will find themselves with an increased capacity for molecular testing (including clinical-grade genomic sequencing), thus improving accessibility to testing and enabling earlier diagnosis. Some of the technologies and platforms unveiled during Covid-19 will undoubtedly find applications in new in vitro diagnostics (IVD) for cancer, and the increased use of robotic or minimally invasive surgery will also find increasing applications in cancer treatment, reducing the need for some patients to undergo debilitating cytotoxic chemotherapy.

Medical devices focusing on cancer as an indication will grow from 9% of pipeline devices in 2019, to over 21% in 2025, according to GlobalData’s Pipeline Products Database. A moderate 3% increase is expected in the product pipelines for both cardiovascular and nervous system diseases to 2025 while orthopaedic devices will severely decline in development (from 18% in 2019 to 8% in 2025). Many companies are still looking to make up revenue from procedures delayed during the pandemic. However, some markets’ revenues were not delayed but lost, as postponements meant some patients may have become inoperable. As a result of the pandemic, and considering the threat of recession, pipeline indications are changing and could represent the industry shifting away from easily disrupted, elective procedures in favour of procedures not so easily disrupted.  

GlobalData’s analysis of pipeline product trends also indicates that IVD will remain the primary focus of research and development in medical devices, despite the reduced need for Covid-19 diagnostic testing. IVD remains a focus for product development due to its quick and reliable results, ease of use, breadth of application, and scale-up potential; IVD is estimated to account for 25% of all medical devices in development through to 2025. Diagnostic tests for metabolic disorders (cholesterol) and other infectious diseases (hepatitis, HIV) will contribute to IVD demand as Covid-19 testing declines while some of the technologies or platforms will undoubtedly find applications in new IVD for cancer.

The increased use of IVD devices will help provide earlier diagnosis and improve outcomes. The pandemic made the average person familiar with lateral flow assays, broadening the application of point-of-care testing to outside of traditional healthcare settings. IVD for complex indications may then find importance in home settings as part of a more sophisticated preventative medicine strategy. Additionally, within healthcare, it’s possible that the pandemic helped new molecular diagnostic technologies, such as CRISPR, gain wider acceptance, which they were not able to achieve in previous public emergencies such as with the West African Ebola epidemics.

There is still an urgent need to address the pent-up demand for treatments that were delayed during the pandemic. Upgraded infrastructure and the emergence of a highly skilled biomedical and bioinformatics workforce will contribute to upscaled testing, diagnosis, and interventions, improving outcomes, and will be the key to healthcare systems recovering.