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Microsphere Particles Increasingly Used to Treat Uterine Fibroids in Europe


July 19, 2005—Uterine fibroids, which are benign tumorous growths on the uterus, occur in approximately 20% of women of reproductive age and as many as 50% of women over 35. According to a new report by Millennium Research Group (MRG), a growing proportion of European fibroid sufferers are now treated with uterine artery embolization (UAE) using microsphere particles, such as BioSphere Medical’s (BSMD) Embospheres. More than 3,500 microsphere UAE procedures were performed in France, Germany, Italy, and the UK in 2004. Procedure volumes will increase at a rate of 9.8% over the next 5 years, generating $4.5 million in revenue by 2009.

Performed by interventional radiologists, UAE involves the use of minute particles to block arteries providing blood to fibroids, causing the growths to shrivel. UAE is minimally invasive, making it an attractive alternative to surgical methods such as hysterectomy or myomectomy. Although approximately 20% of European UAE procedures are still performed with irregularly shaped polyvinyl alcohol particles, the majority of procedures in 2004 used the newer microsphere technology. Microspheres are smoother and more compressible, allowing more targeted embolization and more thorough arterial blockage. High-profile studies supporting the procedure, including a 2004 study by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence in the UK and a 2002 French multicenter registry called FEMIC (Fibromes Embolisés aux MICrospheres calibrées), have also encouraged UAE adoption. These studies will help overcome gynecologists’ reticence to refer patients to interventional radiologists, with whom they have no established relationships. Competition in the European microsphere market will intensify in the coming years, with Biocompatibles (BII.L) and Boston Scientific (BSX) putting pressure on market leader BioSphere Medical.

MRG’s European Markets for Gynecology 2005 report includes analysis of gynecology markets—including UAE particles—procedures volumes, and key competitors. In addition to the UAE competitors mentioned above, the report covers over 30 manufacturers, including Karl Storz Endoscopy, Olympus (OCPNY.PK), and Gynecare (JNJ). The report is part of MRG’s 2005 women’s health series, which also covers US markets for gynecology and global markets for vaginal slings.

A leading source of competitive intelligence, MRG is now the largest provider of medical device market research in the world. Located in Toronto, Canada, MRG covers global markets and has pioneered reporting of numerous emerging products.


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