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Driven by the triple needs to shorten turnaround time for sterilizing costly surgical instruments, replace toxic ethylene oxide (EtO) and gluteraldehyde sterilization processes and protect worker safety, annual U.S. sales of sterilization equipment and supplies are on the rise. According to a recent report produced by Frost & Sullivan, Mountain View, Calif., sterilization equipment and supplies will jump their share of the total market for hospital infection control products to 60% by the year 2001 from 55% in 1994, or to more than $690 million in 2001 from $375 million in 1994.
Until the early 1990s, sterilization techniques remained essentially unchanged. But the introduction of new systems using low-temperature gas plasma and liquid sterilants are fast beginning to reshape the sterilizer market. In all, today's U.S. hospitals utilize one of three methods to sterilize their instruments: steam, EtO and liquid. Currently, steam is the most prevalent technique.
The shrinking number of hospitals in this country is also having an effect on the sterilizer industry, which has been led for years by Pittsburgh-based Amsco. But as it is with hospitals, consolidation is hitting the sterilizer segment as well. The best example is STERIS Corp., Mentor, Ohio, which will soon complete a merger with Amsco. A smaller pie and sharper competition are also beginning to affect price for these expensive machines. "Manufacturers have begun to realize that they must come down in price," says Phyllis Johnson, R.N., a principal with Partners Healthcare Group, a capital equipment consulting firm based in Brentwood, Tenn. "Prices really haven't fallen, but manufacturers are more willing than they used to be to come down on per-unit price. Better deals can now be had."
Here's a rundown of the current status of some of the major players in the sterilizer market:
Poised to take over Amsco, STERIS rules automated liquid sterilization segment …