Continual technological breakthroughs have been transforming the healthcare industry by leaps and bounds in recent decades. With a staggering rise of diabetes-related cases around the globe, self-monitoring blood glucose devices have gained significant attention. Its market, mainly in the Asia-Pacific region is witnessing continual expansion over the years. This region holds 60% of the global diabetic population, with India and China accounting for half of those numbers. Even nations such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Japan, along with few others have seen an increase in diabetic patients recently. According to Netscribes, by 2024, the market value of the Asia-Pacific self-monitoring blood glucose devices will be valued at $2.15 billion.
Growth drivers and opportunities
Growing geriatric population and obesity: The number of obese and overweight people has increased manifold over the decades in the Asia-Pacific region. Obesity along with other metabolic problems have caused a rise in cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Also, an increasing geriatric population in the region is another major factor in the rise of diabetes. This is due to the fact that older adults may not receive adequate medications which can gradually lead to critical and even life-threatening conditions.
Improving awareness through government initiatives: Several governments in the region, are launching various initiatives for diabetes management, causing increased adoption of SMBG devices. For instance, in India, the ministry of health along with WHO, has launched a mobile health initiative called mDiabetes that mainly focuses on preventions and medications for diabetic patients.
Technology-embedded diabetes management: Several technological breakthroughs for monitoring blood glucose levels have led to higher adoption of diabetes management devices. These innovations along with a supply of precise, user-friendly, and mobile SMBG devices, are driving market growth. Also, research and clinical trials on AI-embedded pancreatic systems, as well as on implantable devices and 3D tissue printing are currently underway.
Challenges facing the Asia-Pacific SMBG device industry
Soaring costs of SMBG devices: In developing countries, inadequate reimbursements, as well as high costs of SMBG devices, becomes a huge strain for most individuals. This occurs mainly when blood glucose devices are not covered under governments’ healthcare plans, and reimbursements are not forthcoming from insurance companies. Complexities in the terms and conditions for reimbursements, and the legalities surrounding it, will deter SMBG devices’ adoption.
Strict SMBG manufacturing regulations: SMBG devices and accessories must be designed and manufactured with rigid regulations to uphold obligatory compliances. This poses a challenge for the manufacturers as the range of SMBG result-influencing factors are wide and several of these are beyond the control of manufacturers.
Social disparity and health-illiteracy: The Asia-Pacific region is characterized by social inequality, poverty, and health illiteracy, which leads to rising health issues. Outreach detection programs, incorporated within larger healthcare systems, need to be established which will motivate the most isolated and vulnerable people in society, and can result in effective and early intervention for disease prevention.
Key trends in the Asia-Pacific SMBG device industry
Advent of smart-glucose monitors: These devices are equipped with Bluetooth and other wireless functionalities which allow real-time data to be stored in applications on smartphones and be shared with doctors and other healthcare professionals. These monitors track real-time data to offer comprehensive health insights in the form of graphs and charts that help patients to modify their diet, insulin dosage, and exercise regimes to make their diagnosis more effective, while also providing historical data.
Superior insulin pens and pumps: Various start-ups, funded by pharmaceutical corporations, are incorporating new sensor technologies and communication features to unlock the full potential of insulin pens and pumps. Sensors are being deployed for early diagnosis of diabetes, measuring side effects, monitoring ketone levels, and measuring biological fluids. The market for these devices, as well as for the individual sensors embedded within these systems, will witness growth at an exponential pace, as companies explore the prospects of devices that facilitate glucose testing through saliva, tears, and sweat.
Emergence of CGM technology: Reliable and precise blood glucose monitoring has helped CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) gain widespread popularity. The technology has proven to be quiet efficient in reducing A1C and hypoglycemia, increased the target glucose range time, and have also helped in fine-tuning insulin dosages. Also by supplying real-time and historical data, these devices have allowed both doctors and patients to adjust medications accordingly.
Shift towards artificial and bionic pancreas: Artificial pancreas has three primary components – a continuous glucose monitoring sensor, an insulin delivery pump, and a laptop or smartphone constituent that supervises the delivery of insulin as required. This device is still undergoing clinical trials, but the industry is slowly gravitating towards this long-term monitoring resolution since it will potentially offer completely automated diabetes monitoring and control.