For the last Medtech Pulse post of 2009, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and briefly contribute to the annual end-of-year ballyhoo. Join me for some year-end reflection and thoughts about the year ahead of us. Also, please feel free to add your own thoughts or comments below. Around this time last year, speculation ran rampant as to what the state of the economy would be in 2009 as we hesitatingly tip-toed into a new year predicted to be full of uncertainty and negativity. What was going to be the impact of the recession on the industry? Was the medtech industry recession-proof? Would we lose our jobs? And the answers to these panicky questions proved to be mixed. Some of the year's events panned out as expected: As the general economy suffered, so did some companies serving sectors of the industry that cater to elective procedures, such as plastic surgery and orthopedics. However, patients weren't the only ones holding back as times got tough; many hospitals shied away from capital equipment purchases, opting to hold out until the economy bounced back a little. Obstacles such as these proved that the medical device industry is not recession-proof. Further driving the point to close to home were the lay-offs and plant closings that many companies unfortunately experienced in 2009 as multiple medtech firms looked to cut costs in a hostile economic environment. Change was afoot as well in the supplier pool, as the dire domestic automotive industry left little option for suppliers looking for other industries into which they could diversify. This drastic alteration in Michigan's manufacturing makeup introduced a new kind of supplier to the medical device industry supply chain. But for those that muddled through and ended up now with their heads above water, the year wasn't all bad. Some companies showed profit; however, it appears that most companies were satisfied to merely maintain. The general attitude of the industry this year was that flat was the new gain. It's all anyone could hope for, really. Economic doom and gloom aside, there were some highlights. Despite the tumultuous economy, we saw a host of exciting developments at the R&D level this year, which gives us hope for the advancement of a plethora of medical technologies. Plus, new products found their way to market and suppliers unveiled exciting products and services to enhance OEMs objectives. I don't think anyone is too sad to say goodbye to 2009, though. Instead, we welcome 2010 with the promise that it brings. Emergo Group Inc. (Austin, TX) surveyed a sampling of more than 1000 professionals in the medical device and IVD industries last month, which revealed a general attitude of cautious optimism for 2010. For example, 71.7% of respondents expect sales to increase in 2010 from 2009, while 17.0% anticipate that sales will stay the same and less than 5% predict an overall decrease in sales. In addition, 51.6% report that they think their company would have more employees one year from now and 34.2% forecast that the number of employees will remain the same. Only about 10% portend that their firms will have fewer employees next year. Most telling--and most encouraging--however, is that 53.1% of respondents express a "somewhat positive" outlook for the overall medical device/IVD business environment and 17.5% go so far as to categorize their sentiments as "very positive." Likewise, investment firm Leerink Swann foresees that most healthcare sectors will outperform 2009 in 2010. We can only hope. As we march into 2010 with cautious optimism, I would like to thank you all for visiting our blog--launched at the end of January 2009--and relying on Medtech Pulse and MPMN as your medical device manufacturing information sources. We'll see you in 2010! -- Shana Leonard Editor, Medical Product Manufacturing News/Medtech Pulse
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