Report: Molecular imaging market valued at $5B; future of PET looks bright

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The molecular imaging market is currently valued at approximately $5 billion, with half of the revenue being generated in North America alone, according to a market research report from Espicom Business Intelligence.

The report included the range of fields within molecular imaging (MI) market, including: chemistry, cell biology, disease modeling, target discovery, imaging, clinical research and data processing.

“Presently, most molecular imaging research and development focuses on clinical applications in cancer, cardiovascular and neurological diseases,” the report stated. Moreover, companies are also focusing on translation research, the report said. Imaging small animals can aid in assessing the effectiveness of therapeutic technologies, such as directed drug therapies and radiation therapy and companies are developing and marketing small animal, pre-clinical MI systems with the goal of translating this technology into human applications in the future.

“Additionally, MI technologies will be more readily adopted as clinical evidence establishes its benefits, new technological innovations are brought to the market, and as reimbursement increases,” the report predicts.

Despite this, the outlook for the nuclear imaging industry is highly uncertain with continued questions about future funding and reform, as well as the unresolved matters surrounding the supply of SPECT radiopharmaceuticals and 36 percent reimbursement cut for cardiac myocardial SPECT imaging procedures by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The outlook for the use of PET products is far more positive, according to the market analysis. “Not only has there been an increase in the number of PET procedures being undertaken due to the lack of SPECT radiopharmaceutical availability, demand for PET is also rising as a result of the CMS decision in 2009 to expand reimbursement coverage for the use of FDG-PET in several new cancers, and to increase reimbursement rates for cardiac myocardial perfusion PET imaging by 20 percent.”

All of the major imaging systems companies reported more positive results for the fourth quarter of 2009, with orders either increasing or falling at a much slower rate than seen earlier in the year. While there continues to be weakness in the U.S., declines in this market are lessening. However, the main growth is coming from other regions of the world in emerging markets such as India and China, said the report.

Despite some short-term factors that are likely to impact growth in the MI market, there are strong opportunities in this area. The increasing incidence of cancer, cardiovascular and neurological diseases means that demand for faster and more accurate diagnosis, as well as drug development and pre-clinical study efforts, will continue to accelerate in the coming years, the report predicted.