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Translating the buzz on the Continent to more aesthetic options at home

Article-Translating the buzz on the Continent to more aesthetic options at home

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  • Analysts and pipeline experts examine and discuss the future of worldwide consumer interest in aesthetic medicine

While the United States sets the pace in developing laser and light-based cosmetic treatments, Europe leads the pack in virtually every other category, market analysts and pipeline experts tell Cosmetic Surgery Times. However, none dispute that, for aesthetic ideals, patients from Denmark to Dubai still largely follow Hollywood's cues.

MODEST GROWTH Europe comprises about 25 percent of the $3.4 billion global market for laser therapies, neurotoxins, fillers and breast surgeries, says Peter Bye, senior analyst with New York-based Jefferies & Company, Inc. Over the next few years, he says that, on a compounded basis, "We predict the market can grow in the high single digits annually." In the near term, the E.U. market will grow more slowly than other markets because more products have been available there longer, which erodes manufacturers' pricing margins, Mr. Bye explains. "The economic malaise that impacted the U.S. in early 2008 seems to so be catching up," he adds. However, this sluggishness hasn't halted E.U. manufacturers' development efforts. "Generally," he says, "aesthetic devices are launched there before reaching the United States."

Ms. Lewis
Mr. Bye says there's also a boomerang effect: some products succeed modestly in Europe, "then they really take off after they've come through the U.S. and circle back to Europe again." "There's a big transition at the moment," adds Kelly Barritt, market analyst with Wellingborough, U.K.-based InMedica, a division of IMS Research. European companies are trying to access the U.S. market and vice versa to expand their target markets, she explains.

Dr. Sattler
"When one considers the products the United States doesn't have," says Wendy Lewis, "overseas aesthetics companies with good products are eyeing the U.S. market as if the streets are paved with gold." She is president of Wendy Lewis & Co. Ltd., Global Aesthetic Consultancy, New York.

DIVERGING ROADS TO APPROVAL Broadly speaking, Mr. Bye says, Europe leads the aesthetic innovation race, "But that's a function of the regulatory process, which is less involved, less costly and quicker there." "America is ahead in laser technologies," adds Ms. Lewis. But in other aesthetic categories, she states, "Europe is way ahead due to the U.S. regulatory environment. The time and money required to bring a brand to market here is so astronomical that many smaller players will never be able to pursue FDA approval" on their own.

Simultaneously, Ms. Lewis says, now that big pharma players have acquired products that were previously sold through indirect country-specific distributor networks, "That elevates the quality of the training and consistency of results because the companies have a much more vested interest in their technologies."

Nevertheless, approval-related inconsistencies remain. To be sold in the E.U., medical devices (including fillers) require a CE mark, granted by the European Commission.

Worth noting, however, Ms. Lewis points out, is the fact that "A CE mark is the same mark they give a toaster. The marketer, distributor or manufacturer just has to document that the product conforms with the European directives, which are far more lax than FDA safety requirements."

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