On 2 August, Siemens Healthineers announced that it will acquire Varian Medical for $16.4B, with the deal expected to close in 2021. Varian Medical manufactures medical devices related to radiation oncology, including embolisation particles. The move would result in Siemens Healthineers becoming a significant player in the embolisation particles market.

Embolisation particles, such as tiny gelatin sponges or beads, are used to stop bleeding or to block the flow of blood to an aneurysm or tumour, resulting in shrinkage. These particles are generally used to treat liver cancer, renal cell carcinoma, kidney cancer, neuroendocrine tumours, arteriovenous malformation, uterine fibroids, and benign prostatic hyperplasia. Despite having similar appearances and handling characteristics, each type of embolic agent has specific physical and chemical properties that affect in vivo behaviour. The size of the embolisation particles can range from 30–1,200µm depending on the indication for which they are being used. Embolotherapy with particles is a minimally invasive procedure and can be used as an alternative to open surgery. GlobalData categorises embolisation particles into four segments based on their composition and mechanism of action:

  • PolyVinyl Alcohol (PVA) Particles: PVA particles are small and irregular flakes of polyvinyl alcohol. These particles are used for permanent blockage or closing of blood vessels.
  • Microspheres: Microspheres are small spherical shells that are made up of biodegradable plastic polymers. Microspheres have a very small diameter, usually in the micron or nanometer range.
  • Drug-Eluting Beads: Drug-eluting beads (also known as drug-eluting microspheres) are filled with drugs at the time of treatment. These beads allow for the slow release of drugs into tumours.
  • Radioembolisation Particles: Radioembolisation particles are radioactive particles delivered to a tumour through the bloodstream. These particles are often used to treat cancers in the liver and used for patients who may not be able to undergo other treatments.

The embolisation particles market is driven by a wide variety of factors including the growing global ageing population and a growing number of patients with various types of cancer including renal cell carcinoma, kidney cancer, and neuroendocrine tumours. Demand for embolisation particles is likely to increase in the near future as they are easy to use and have reproducible and controllable deep penetration of tumours and organs. The type of particle used will depend on the patient’s age, the cost of the procedure, and the treatment type.

GlobalData estimates that the global embolisation particles market was worth $352M in 2019, with Boston Scientific, Sirtex Medical, and Merit Medical Systems comprising over 75% of the total market. Other companies with significant market share include Terumo Corporation, Varian Medical, and Cook Medical, with Varian Medical accounting for 5.7% of the market.

In 2019, Varian Medical acquired Boston Scientifics’ portfolio of drug-loadable microspheres and bland embolic bead products (Embozene and Oncozene), which are designed to treat arteriovenous malformations and hypervascular tumours. Additionally, the company acquired China-based Alicon in 2019, adding its main embolic therapy product, Caligel, to its portfolio. Caligel is used in over 1,000 hospitals in China to treat liver cancer. As such, Varian Medical became a major manufacturer of microspheres and drug-eluting beads, with 14.1% and 15.7% of these global markets, respectively. Varian Medical accounted for 3.2% of the global PVA particles market, while the company does not manufacture radioembolisation particles.

Siemens Healthineers’ acquisition of Varian Medical gives the company a significant foothold and an opportunity to gain market share in the growing particle embolisation market.