German medtech association BVMed surveyed 118 companies about their expected sales in 2020, and presented the results at a digital conference on 1 October


Some 57% of surveyed medtech firms are expecting a decrease in sales this year, according to BVMed

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be hit hardest by an expected 4.9% drop in medtech sales in 2020, according to BVMed.

The German medtech association surveyed 118 medical device manufacturers – mainly from the US and Germany – and found that more than half anticipated a reduction of sales this year.

BVMed also reported that a third of these companies said they were expecting double-digit percentages of sales declines.

While the average across the industry was 4.9%, the decline in weighted sales figures – which place more importance in numbers from larger manufacturers – was just 2.1%, suggesting that SMEs are bracing themselves for an even greater drop in sales.

Further evidence towards this conclusion comes from the fact that, according to BVMed’s report, companies with a turnover of less than €25m have recorded an average turnover decline of 6.5% so far this year.

Speaking at BVMed’s annual digital conference earlier this month, Dr Marc-Pierre Möll – managing director of the association – said there had been a decrease in “vital” industry exports in 2020 as well, and called for stronger regulatory relief measures for medium-sized medtech firms.

“Our industry is committed to strengthening Germany as a production and research location by recognising the medium-sized medical device industry as a lead market, and a strong economic factor,” Möll added.

“We want to ensure rapid innovation access for modern medical technologies, especially for digital health applications.

“Modern medtech solutions are fascinating – we have to appreciate them even better and, in future, transfer results from research and development more quickly into supply practice, and remunerate them in a quality-oriented manner.”


BVMed survey on 2020 medtech sales

The 4.9% decline in sales that surveyed companies are expecting this year marks a drop-off of more than 8% compared to the 3.3% increase observed in 2019.

BVMed claimed that this – along with the fact that a total of 57% of firms are expecting a decrease in sales – shows how “dramatically” the medtech industry has been affected by the postponement of elective surgeries, and fewer doctor’s appointments taking place, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

elective surgeries postponed 2020
The medtech industry has been damaged by the postponement of many elective surgeries in 2020 (Credit: Olga Guryanova)

The medtech association also stated this impact has not been balanced out by the increased need for medical PPE (personal protective equipment) and hygiene products across the globe.

In spite of the hit medtech sales have taken, the survey’s results indicated that, overall, jobs in the industry will remain stable – with 55% of companies saying they will keep the same number of employees, and 27% saying they will actually create additional jobs.

Some 38% of the surveyed firms also said they had used short-time working to avoid making staff members redundant.


Concerns over EU MDR

According to BVMed’s report, 81% of surveyed medtech companies see increased regulatory requirements under the EU Medical Device Regulation (MDR) – which is set to be enforced from 26 May 2021 – as the “greatest obstacles” to further development of the industry.

The obligation to provide comprehensive clinical data, longer conformity assessment times and price pressure from purchasing groups were all cited as concerns for medtech firms moving forward too.

Some 56% of medtech companies are in favour of simplified recertification for proven, existing medical devices, technologies and other products under the MDR, according to BVMed – while more than one third wanted funding programmes to enable SMEs to implement the new regulatory guidelines.

“The companies are demanding a simplified recertification for tried and tested existing products,” Möll concluded.