It is well known that in the last two years the pandemic has affected most of the key sectors in Italy. Contrary to popular belief, many companies in the medical device sector have also suffered a serious impact.
Comparing 2019 to 2020 we can see that this situation has significantly affected the expenditure allocated for medical devices consumed by Italian hospitals, going from a total expenditure of 4.1 billion euros recorded in the first nine months of 2019 to 3.7 billion in the same period of 2020 (-10%). This decrease is even more relevant if we consider that a large portion of the investments concerned devices and equipment dedicated to support covid patients, diagnostics and preventive contrast of infections, as we will analyse in more detail.

In fact, if we segment the consumption of the sector, in some areas that were overwhelmed by the, health emergency, there has been a significant increase in the consumption of devices, especially for respiratory and intensive care segments; devices for in vitro diagnostics also recorded a 65% increase, thanks mainly to the growth of reagents used in immunological tests for infectious diseases which jumped by 264%, only in the period of January-September of 2020.
The consumption of nasopharyngeal swabs also increased by about 745% compared to the first nine months of 2019. There was an obvious increase in the demand for therapeutic devices for the treatment of the effects of coronavirus, such as respiratory masks, breathing circuits and instrumentation for monitoring vital parameters.

On the contrary, the consumption of those devices connected to non-urgent surgical procedures was almost nil, especially in the orthopedic and ophthalmology sector (for example prosthesis, which had a decrease in consumption of 35%).
So, based on the following data, we can say that, in some way, the general decrease in global consumption of medical devices used in hospitals has been partially “cushioned” by the growth in consumption of products connected to the Covid -19 emergency. Evidently this lack of homogeneity has had a huge impact on the fortunes or on the difficulties of the various manufacturing companies.
In fact, following a survey carried out by the Confindustria Medical Device Study Center, it emerged that more than half of the companies in the sector have been strongly economically affected by this situation. For example, we have to consider that 45.8% of businesses are using redundancy funds; more specifically, 30.1% are the companies that have declared to use them, while 15.7% have started to use them in the days following the survey. Of course, the use of the redundancy funds and the consequent increasingly reduced use of personnel are the mirror of the decline in production; specifically, 63.2% used this allowance for more than 2/3 of staff and 13.2% of companies even suspended all workers.

Like in other circumstances of crisis, this measure was mainly adopted by micro enterprises, with a turnover of less than 2 million euros. In fact, they represent the 2/3 of the beneficiaries, while the big companies that made use of this allowance are only 1/3.
That said, the recovery that our country is experiencing, which unfortunately is threatened to some extent by the current war events, is also evident in the medical device sector, and the normalization of diagnostic and clinical activities within both hospitals and private structures results in an increase in overall demand.

We can also hope that the harsh “lesson” imparted by the pandemic will prevent future indiscriminate cuts to the healthcare system, which we have witnessed for many years, and that all health facilities organize themselves in a more rational and farsighted way, also to deal effectively with any future unforeseen events.