Self-diagnosis set to boom - Embedded.com

Self-diagnosis set to boom

LONDON — The market for over-the-counter (OTC) tests for diagnostics is set to boom but the industry’s ability to seize this opportunity hinges upon greater collaboration with consumer and pharmaceutical companies according to a report from Cambridge Consultants.

The drivers for such growth, beyond the current market for glucose and pregnancy tests, come from the healthcare providers who want to reduce the burden of care and identify conditions much sooner; and the consumers who want to play a more active role in managing their health.

Between 2005 and 2010 this new OTC market is predicted to grow by at least 5 percent CAGR to $690million and beyond 2010 it will expand more into the consumer sector, and could rival that for glucose testing, which currently stands at around $6 billion.

At the moment the worldwide consumer diagnostics sector is predominantly focused on glucose and pregnancy testing. However, the delegates discussed that with the prevalence of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and obesity there is a major commercial opportunity and patient benefit for in-home testing and monitoring. In the near future these conditions will be the leading causes of death and disability. By making positive changes to their lifestyles, as the result of early identification and subsequent monitoring, patients can eliminate or better manage these conditions.

There is a clear opportunity within Europe, especially nations with centralised healthcare providers, such as those in the U.K. and Italy provide the most fertile ground, delegates said. As they face an increasing burden of care, such providers have extra incentives to make use of other outlets for patient testing, including pharmacies and even supermarkets.

The report was written by Dr Simon Burnell, head of Cambridge Consultants’ diagnostics group, and follows a workshop the company hosted and at which delegates from across Europe discussed the future of diagnostics as a consumer-driven market. The attendees discussed the current market, the opportunities available and how technology would enable firms to profit.

“Reaching this new market involves significant change and investment, which some companies do not have the resources to exploit. This is why the attendees at the recent workshop identified collaboration as the way forward. Successful collaborations between key players from the pharmaceutical, diagnostics and consumer sectors will create a powerful and convincing offering for consumers,” said Dr Burnell.

The group discussed the core diagnostic technology needed and as a whole felt that it already existed to make this new sector a reality. However, the group identified that new approaches to product design would be needed as the products migrated from OTC to more of a consumer product and that, as patient compliance is poor for certain conditions, some consumer-friendly diagnostics would need to be integrated with other products, such as a toothbrush to detect tooth decay or gum disease, a computer mouse that monitors hydration or a mobile phone that can monitor your temperature; all of which eliminate the need for testing. In essence, new products need to be simple, reliable and produce an actionable result.

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