Consumption of medical devices and diagnostic products in the United States grew 7% to $38.2 billion in 1993 from $35.7 billion in 1992, according to a report released last week by the Health Industry Manufacturers Association.
U.S. demand for such products is expected to continue to climb at about 7% this year and next, the report said.
The fastest growth will occur in sales of surgical and medical instruments, which include such products as laparoscopic tools, the trade group's report said.
HIMA is a Washington-based group that represents more than 700 medical-technology manufacturers. The products covered in its report range from tongue depressors and allergy-measuring kits to more expensive and complex devices, such as orthopedic implants and magnetic resonance imaging systems.
Demand in several foreign countries is expected to grow at a much faster rate than in the United States. For example, the developing countries in Asia will buy about 22% more medical devices and diagnostic products annually. Many U.S. companies last year announced plans to expand sales abroad. Analysts said such steps could help keep their earnings high.
However, U.S. companies are losing opportunities abroad to competition from Japan, HIMA said. Meanwhile, federal regulations halt many sales or drive manufacturing operations out of the country, it said. The Food and Drug Administration takes too long to approve products for export if they haven't been approved for sale in the United States, HIMA said.
An FDA spokeswoman said that rulings on export requests for approved and unapproved products are made in an average of 22 days. Separate figures for each category weren't available.-Lisa Scott