The limited efficacy of existing diabetes therapies is set to pose the main challenge for the European diabetes diagnostics markets as the uptake and adoption for new innovative techniques determining the future of this burgeoning sector.
The development of effective methods to mange this disease would be a breath of fresh air for sufferers that have had to put up with treatments with unpleasant side effects and compliance issues, due to inadequate misdiagnosis.
Diabetes has become a disease synonymous with the developed world with cases soaring in numbers each year. Bad diet, lack of exercise and ineffective drug therapies have all contributed to this rise, which represents a massive chunk in the healthcare budget of nations in Europe and the US.
Market analysts have put the annual economic costs alone for the US are placed at $98 billion while in Europe, Type 2 diabetes alone costs Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom at $29 billion (€23 billion) annually.
Medical analysts have warned of the ticking time bomb that these countries are facing as statistics have revealed that at least one-third of diabetics are ignorant of their condition.
Of the 13 million people in the US thought to be suffering from diabetes, approximately 5.2 million are unaware they have the disease. Similarly, up to a million of Europe's population with Type 2 diabetes remain undiagnosed.
"With such undiagnosed cases widespread across Europe, there is an urgent need to improve public awareness concerning diabetes and encourage regular monitoring," said Amarpreet Dhiman, Frost & Sullivan 's industry analyst.
"Although, patients should be encouraged to have regular testing and monitoring as part of physical examinations, early detection and management will be a key factor in stabilising individuals with diabetes, and, in addition reducing the financial costs that arise from late complications," she added.
Dhiman stressed the importance of improvement in physician and health care professional awareness and education in order to understand the complete benefits of laboratory-based testing and frequency.
Frost and Sullivan's latest report: "Strategic Analysis of the European Diabetes Diagnostics Markets," stated that the situation was creating a strong case for the development of innovative diabetes management techniques and campaigns to boost awareness. Some ideas that have already been put forward include education about the availability of novel tests and therapies. In addition, innovative techniques are already making diabetes monitoring easier.
The advent of cutting-edge glucose meters that are compact and easy to handle are replacing the relatively imprecise traditional urine-based tests.
The report identified the use of such instruments complemented the trend towards smaller size and ease of use. They also represented attempts by manufacturers to improve patient accuracy, with components that require less time and blood to make a glucose measurement possible.
Apart from requiring smaller sample sizes, miniaturisation typified by the move towards higher-density, lower-volume formats could save reagent costs and conserve the supply of precious compounds.
Automation is another technical advancement to help overcome labour shortages even as it reduces time consuming and costly manual interventions.
"Moreover, invasive treatments may be banished by minimally invasive and non-invasive techniques, but the technology to provide an alternative to current injectable and non-injectable products for diabetes is a positive step in the right direction," added Dhiman.
With forecasts of $362 million for the European diabetes diagnostic market, the level and complexity of data as well as analysis and interpretation increases, point of care (PoC) testing is set to make strong gains.
PoC testing, with its ability to provide rapid and simple results, offers an easy approach to regularly monitoring the disease and is already the largest market in Europe for diabetes diagnostics. In 2004, it contributed $200 million of the total market value with laboratory testing accounting for the remainder.
While the levels of PoC and laboratory testing will remain steady over the next several years, the use of glycated haemoglobin testing is expected to rise slightly as general practitioner surgeries, healthcare and outpatient clinics and small hospital-based laboratories adopt the technology more readily.
The report recommended that the overall progress made in the diabetes diagnostics arena needed to be strengthened through continual efforts to achieve more patient-friendly screening and treatment with an ongoing emphasis on better education and training.