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Medical Industry Overview


The global medical industry is one of the world's fastest growing industries, absorbing over 10% of gross domestic product of most developed nations. It constitutes of broad services offered by various hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, diagnostic laboratories, pharmacies and ably supported by drugs, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, medical equipment, manufacturers and suppliers.

The medical and health care industry provides enormous employment opportunities to choose from. Apart from using the services of medical professionals, this industry also utilizes the expert services of public policy workers, medical writers, clinical research lab workers, IT professionals, sales/marketing professionals and health insurance providers.


The United States of America has one of the largest medical and healthcare industries in the world, followed by Switzerland and Germany. The USA's medical industry comprises of more than 750,000 physicians and 5,200 hospitals. USA witnesses approximately 3.8 million inpatient visits and 20 million outpatients visit on a daily basis. Furthermore, the United States of America has the largest workforce i.e. one in every 11 US residents employed in the health care business.

The Global prescription drug market was $550 billion in the year 2006. Also, the total health care expenditures across the world were $4.5 trillion last year. Of which, US solely account for $ 2.2 trillion, $ 2 trillion in OECD countries and remaining $ 0.3 in other countries of the world. Learn about the challenges for the medical industry in the article '2009 Financial Crisis: Top 9 Issues for Health Industries.'


The global medical industry is highly fragmented, comprising of various ancillary sectors namely medical equipment and supplies, pharmaceutical, healthcare services, biotechnology, and alternative medicines sectors.
  • Medical Equipment and Supplies:

    Consists of various establishments or units engaged in designing, manufacturing, selling and distributing of surgical and medical instruments, ophthalmic, lab apparatus, electro medical, dental, irradiation, surgical appliances and supplies.

    Share of medical equipment and supplies in 2006
  • Pharmaceutical Industry

    Comprises of several establishments involved in developing, researching, marketing and distributing drugs or medicines. Globally, the market share of pharmaceutical industry is US $340 billion. The global pharmaceutical sales account for US$ 602 billion, with an annual growth rate of 7%. In the year 2006, the global pharmaceutical exports totaled US $ 271.9 billion having an annual growth rate of 10%.

    Share of global market sales for pharmaceutical industry
  • Healthcare Services Industry

    It includes various establishments dealing in different type of services like testing, outsourcing, transcription, quality assurance, validation, compliance, chemical analysis, and other types of services. The global market share of biotechnology services industry is worth US $ 50 billion, which is soon expected to witness a hike in coming years. Presently, pharmaceutical testing service industry values to US $ 5.9 billion, which is predicted to reach US $ 9.5 billion by the end of 2009. Microbiological testing service industry accounts for US $ 2.4 billion. Globally, the medical outsourcing services industry accounts for approximately US $ 200 billion. Read the US Home Healthcare Industry Overview for more information.

  • Biotechnology Industry

    It is one of the most research-intensive segments of the global healthcare industry. Biotechnology industry is composed of many establishments, which are engaged in making wide variety of biotech products. Biotechnology is primarily being used by the pharmaceutical industry but there are other industries like agriculture, mining, waste treatment industries as well, which are making continuous use of biotechnology. Biotechnology companies focus on developing methods or products used for preventing, diagnosing and treating dozens of life threatening and chronic diseases. The biotechnology industry has mushroomed since its inception and at present it is equivalent to US $ 50.7 billion. China, USA, India, Australia, and France are the market leaders of biotech products in the world.
    Biotechnology Products

    Biotechnology industry sales, revenues, R&D, companies, employment, and market capitalization by region.
  • Alternative Medication Industry

    It includes various groups involved in the promotion of different forms of alternative medications and therapies like ayurveda, homeopathy, aromatherapy, massage therapy etc. The total market size of alternative medicine is valued at US $2.7 billion while global market for traditional therapies accounts for US $60 billion.
  • Dietary Supplements Industry

    According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, consumers in the USA spent $20.3 billion on dietary supplements in 2004. Comprising vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids, whole foods, nutraceuticals, etc, the USFDA regulates dietary supplements differently than the "conventional" foods and drug products. Regulated by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), the manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the safety of dietary supplements before they are marketed. The industry derives much of its demand from growing health awareness, ageing population, consumer spending, and nutrition trends. Bringing out innovative products, effective merchandising and competitive pricing determines the manufacturers’ profitability. Supplements are sold via supermarkets, drugstores, Internet, mail orders, health food stores, and by direct sellers.

  • Hospital Furniture Industry

    The hospital furniture industry is a part of institutional-type furniture market, engaged in the manufacture of furniture items for theaters, libraries, schools, etc. Hospital furniture may be made custom-built or be made on stock basis, and it may be assembled or unassembled. The institutional furniture manufacturing industry in the US generated annual revenues of about $4.2 billion in 2008.

  • Medical Instruments Industry

    The medical and dental instruments industry is diverse and a technologically dynamic market. It is made up of several sectors including surgical and medical instruments, appliances, dental equipment and supplies, etc. While the largest medical instrument markets in the world are America, Europe and Japan, there's a huge potential for the medical instruments industry in China. Also, the industry has a promising future in the US, due to increasing surgical procedures and an aging population.

  • Medicated Personal Care Product Industry

    Over 750 companies are engaged in the manufacture of personal care products, generating a total of $40 billion in combined annual revenue. The top 50 companies by size account for about 70 percent of industry revenue. Companies within the industry are primarily engaged in blending, compounding, and packaging toilet products such as creams and lotions, shampoos, makeup, sunscreens, skin care products, shaving products, and mouthwashes.
  • Medicated Personal Care Products

  • Cleanrooms Industry

    The cleanrooms consumables industry in the US is valued at $1.2 billion and the demand for clean room consumables is expected to at and annual growth rate of 5.9 percent. The most promising segments within within consumables include drugs, foods, flat panel displays, beverages, and hard disk drives. Further, while apparel and chemicals will dominate the market, swabs and wipes will lead witness fast growth.

  • Waste Management Plants and Equipment Industry

    There are about 10,000 private waste management companies in the US, with an aggregate annual revenue of $50 billion. Waste management is a highly competitive industry with the demand being directly proportionally to volume of waste generated. The most common services rendered by the industry include waste collection, treatment, disposal, remediation, and recycling. The wastes processesed include solid wastes, low-level radioactive wastes, and liquid wastes.
  • Waste Management Plants & Equipments
  • Laboratory Equipment Industry

    Medical industry has a high growth rate and makes up for about 10 percent of the GDP for many countries. The laboratory equipment industry on the othe hand accounts for 7 percent of the medical industry. Some countries have witnessed explosive growth in laboratory equipment. For instance in Germany, the sales of laboratory products surged to reach a record figure of $7 billion in 2006.
  • Laboratory Equipment Products
    • Electrophoresis Equipment
    • Laboratory Centrifuge
  • Laboratory Chemical & Gases Industry

    The clinical laboratory industry of the USA has a market capitalization of $50 billion. Even though the industry represents less than 3 percent of the health care budget, it furnishes over 70 percent of the diagnostic information that results in making medical decisions in patient care.
  • Laboratory Chemical & Gases
    • Chemical Indicators
    • Laboratory Gas
  • Medical Clothing Industry

    Medical and surgical clothing plays a crucial role of protection from transfer of bacteria and other pathogens from the skin of the medical staff to the hospital environment and patients. Despite the primary function of medical clothing being protection, the medical staff today expects more from medical apparel in terms of quality and innovation. Whereas manufacturers on the other hand face the challenge of increasing comfort, effectiveness, and efficiencies, while keeping their costs to a minimum.
  • Packaging Material and Equipment Industry

    The packaging industry in the United States has expanded to reach figure of $126 billion. As the market has matured the growth has slowed down. As a result, over the next few years the industry will experience growth rates ranging from 1.5-2.0 percent. As against the outlook for the whole industry, the plastic packaging market has a promising outlook. This segment also accounts for $38.2 billion of total packaging industry.
  • Patient Aids Industry

    There is an ever increasing population across countries worldwide including United States, Europe, Asia that point to the fact that a wide variety of patient aids and assistive technology device will grow in demand. The global sales of AT devices by US companies totaled $2.87 billion in 1999, up 22 percent from $2.35 billion in 1997. Just in the USA, the Market potential for hearing aids will cross the figure of 60 Million units by 2015.
  • Pharmaceutical Raw Materials Industry

    Pharmaceutical raw materials including both active ingredients and excipients will be increasingly used to facilitate the drugs delivery in future. The outlook for the pharmaceutical excipient sector is positive owing to the booming business in preparations for biological engineering and insoluble drugs. The market The production value of this segment worldwide was estimated to reach US$4.6 billion in 2008, while in 2005 the market value stood at $2.5 billion.
  • Pharmaceutical Raw Material
    • Animal Extract
    • Drug Intermediate
  • Pharmaceutical Service Industry

    Pharmaceutical services industry has many components including medical outsourcing, clinical trials, biotechnology services, etc. The global clinical trials industry was worth $10 billion according to estimates and is slated to considerably in future. Outsourcing services such as medical transcription too will grow fast. For instance the US medical transcription industry was valued at $12 billion in 2005 and is expected to reach a figure of $16.8 billion by 2010.
  • Veterinary Products Industry

    The veterinary products industry is fueled by growth in the pet ownership trends, as well as by the veterinary requirements of farm animals. The US veterinary services comprises about 26,000 veterinary centers and animal testing laboratories, with a total revenue of $20 billion on an annual basis. According to pet ownership figures in the US about 71.1 millions homes own a pet. The total U.S. pet industry expenditures for 2009 are expected to be $45.4 billion.


There are various factors, which govern the growth of the medical and healthcare industry. Some of the key factors are:
  • Continuous investments in research & development has resulted in increased productivity and better quality of drugs, medicines, medical instruments, hospital equipment, and other medical supplies used in medical industry.
  • Provides employment to large chunk of human population. United States of America has the largest workforce i.e. one in every 11 US residents employed in the health care business.
  • Increased costs in the medical treatment in the developed nations have driven patients to migrate to Asian countries.
  • Rise in ailments among the ageing population especially in developed nations has led to the increase in demand of variety of drugs or medicines.
  • Innovative techniques of drug discovery and drug development, new cures and treatments, gene testing for insurance, genetic predictions of disease and related issue, human cloning and reproductive technologies are the other key drivers of the medical industry.


The future perspective of medical industry seems to be immensely bright and encouraging for this industry in terms of the expected surge in global demand and upsurge in investments. Several trends such as globalization, continuous investments in research and development, newer techniques of drug development and discovery, product proliferation, mergers and acquisitions are the key drivers of this industry.

Increasing corporatization of Private Healthcare in the backdrop of a growing and affluent middle class is an emerging trend that has been pushing the growth of this industry. Health Insurance and Medical Tourism are the other significant trends, which are governing the global healthcare and medical industry. Most of the nations are now emphasizing on the accreditation of medical professionals so as to ensure legitimacy of the services provided by them. Robust advancement in the field of information technology will allow critical medical data to be processed and transferred quickly over larger distances, thereby saving time of both the patients and physicians in the speeding delivery of treatment.

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