According to Millennium Research Group (MRG), a growing number of injuries to the aging population combined with more active lifestyles will lead to unspectacular but steady growth in the market for orthopedic bracing devices through 2015.
The combination of an aging population and higher rates of obesity leads to significant increases in knee problems. Knee bracing, the largest part of the market, will see strong growth as a result. At the same time, younger and more active patients are seeing higher rates of sports injuries, leading to the need for knee, ankle and wrist bracing. In general, as healthcare consumers become more informed, they are more likely to request bracing in the hopes of avoiding invasive surgery.
The U.S. orthopedic bracing market is highly fragmented and competitive. Aside from DJO Global, with just over a quarter of the total market, no other competitor has a market share as high as 10%. Competitors include Össur, DeRoyal Medical Products, Bledsoe Brace Systems, Spinal Technology, Breg (an Orthofix company) and Bird & Cronin. Dozens of companies with even lower shares comprise over 40% of the rest of the market.
The result is an increasingly commoditized market with strong price competition. Braces have similar product features and there has been little recent innovation in brace design. Many companies gain market share through discounting, contracts with group purchasing organizations and other pricing strategies, rather than product differentiation.
“This is a huge market, and thus a significant expense for insurers,” said MRG Lead Analyst Deanna Vankessel. “They have been holding reimbursements down, further affecting prices manufacturers can get for their prescription products. As a result, many manufacturers are developing and marketing better-fitting and more functional off-the-shelf braces. And soft braces have completely lost Medicare and Medicaid coverage in recent years, leading manufacturers to reduce prices on those as well. This has a serious affect on manufacturer product margins, but clearly benefits patients, who have access to a wide variety of reasonably priced braces.”[Source: "U.S. Markets for Orthopedic Bracing Devices." Millennium Research Group (MRG). 27 Oct. 2011. Web. 31 Oct. 2011.]