US predicted to adopt premium IOLs more quickly than Europe & Japan

January 25, 2008

The US ophthalmic market will embrace the use of premium intraocular lenses (IOLs) rapidly, whereas less flexible reimbursement programmes in Europe and Japan will delay their adoption in those markets.

The US ophthalmic market will embrace the use of premium intraocular lenses (IOLs) rapidly, whereas less flexible reimbursement programmes in Europe and Japan will delay their adoption in those markets, the Millennium Research Group (MRG) has forecast.

In many European countries, cataract procedures are reimbursed at a fixed amount and, therefore, premium IOLs are used only in procedures paid for with out-of-pocket funds. By comparison, in the US, IOLs that have been granted new technology IOL reimbursement status receive additional Medicare reimbursement of $50 per lens for procedures performed in ambulatory surgical centres.

"In Japan," said Cheyne Singh, an analyst at MRG, "advanced IOL technology has had slow adoption… mainly because of low reimbursement rates and a slow approval process. Many industry insiders consider the Japanese medical device regulatory approval process to be costly, time-consuming and a major hindrance in developing the Japanese IOL market."

Other predictions made by MRG, based on its research include:

• The US IOL market will surpass $980 million in sales in 2011, compared with $458 million in Europe and Japan combined.

• The US market for IOLs is expected to grow significantly over the next five years, based on the growth of advanced IOL technology. Sales of lenses to address presbyopia and those with aspheric optic profiles will grow significantly because of heavy marketing campaigns by their manufacturers, the introduction of new lenses and increased training of surgeons to implant such IOLs.

• The future growth of the European market for premium IOLs is highly contingent on a price reduction by manufacturers or increased reimbursement. As a result, the market for less costly traditional monofocal lenses (those made of hydrophobic, hydrophilic, silicone, or polymethylmethacrylate material) will remain strong in Europe over the next five years.

• The use of hydrophobic IOLs in Japan will increase over the next five years. In 2007, the majority of cataract procedures in Japan were performed using lenses made of that material.

• The Japanese IOL market will also gain considerable value from the increasing use of premium-priced, preloaded IOL injector systems.