Contrast Agents for Medical Imaging

Published - Mar 2000| Analyst - Agam Giora| Code - HLC050A
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Report Highlights

  • The market for contrast media for medical imaging applications is estimated to be $5.1 billion in 1999 and is expected to grow at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 4.7% through 2004. The market is forecast to reach more than $6.4 billion by 2004.
  • The forecast for next few years for X-ray contrast media is stagnant, with an AAGR of -0.8% through 2004. Volume will increase mostly in Asia, and prices will decline slightly in the major markets. In the next few years, there will be an overall stagnation in volume and a slight decrease in revenues.
  • The MRI CM market is very young. The first product was introduced in the U.S. market in 1988. The market, estimated to be $430 million in 1999, will grow at a healthy AAGR of 12.3% through 2004 to approximately $800 million. Growth will be dominated by GI and liver contrast agents, which will gain market share at the expense of CNS MRI agents. These will grow more modestly.



Medical imaging is the production of images of internal organs and tissues by the application of nonsurgical techniques. It has grown to be a vital tool providing information that may otherwise be obtained only by invasive methods, and allowing the emerging of new, friendlier and less costly medical procedures. Not only do these techniques allow the visualization of organs for diagnostic purposes, but the rapid developments in this field offer tools to aid the surgeon during surgical procedures. There are four main technological modalities that are used: X-rays, magnetic resonance, ultrasound and nuclear imaging. All of them are developing rapidly. In all modalities, chemicals (contrast media) are used to enhance the image, and to increase contrast between the target organ and surrounding tissues.

The contrast media market is very dynamic. On one side, there is a continued development of new generations which permit easier and safer diagnoses, and on the other, the high impact these techniques have on healthcare expenses. The relative toxicity of some of the contrast media raises a stirring debate in the medical profession regarding cost/benefits.

In view of all this, the present report endeavors to give the reader an accurate bearing on where the industry of contrast agents is now, and where it is heading towards the beginning of the next millenium. The primary objectives are:

  • To describe the industry of contrast media, their significance and future trends and prospects.
  • To analyze past and current volume and value of the market as a whole, and of the particular main contrast media.
  • To describe the chemical structure of the contrast media.
  • To forecast the volume and value for contrast media through 2003.
  • To analyze the changes impacting the industry and assess the outcome.
  • To discuss safety issues of the different contrast media, and impact on the market.
  • To identify and describe the key manufacturers of contrast media.


Contrast media are discussed in many reports. The rapid development of the technologies, major changes in market behavior and the high impact that imaging technology has upon healthcare expenses all justify focusing on this segment.

The participants need to be acutely aware of the alternatives and preferences in using various contrast media. They must be acquainted with safety issues related to these materials and their economical characteristics.

Some manufacturers of contrast media specialize in a small segment or single modality, and others are active in the entire spectrum. All the manufacturers and distributors may find it valuable to have an insight into the rest of the contrast media market to intelligently plan for the future. The same applies to doctors, and particularly, healthcare organizations.

Since the contrast media have distinct chemical structures, they require special types of intermediates and starting materials. Producers of these intermediates could gain an understanding of trends regarding their own products.

This report brings these factors into focus and provides manufacturers, distributors and users of contrast media with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions relating to investment, procurement or material selection.


This report is intended to inform those companies involved in medical imaging in general, and contrast media in particular. Also, the distributors of those materials, and their users, namely doctors and health organizations. The study is an analysis and summation of interviews with hundreds of key industry officials, contrast media manufacturers, consultants, government and healthcare personnel, and literature searches.


Contrast media for the four major types of imaging modalities will be covered. These include:

  • X-rays, including computerized tomography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Ultrasound
  • Nuclear imaging agents.

Generally, these contrast media are discussed as groups, and as individual additives. The following issues are treated:

  • Description of the modality
  • Types of contrast media for the modality
  • Advantages and disadvantages of the contrast media
  • Chemical structure of the main contrast media
  • Producers of the contrast media
  • Safety issues
  • Market and price
  • Future technological and market trends
  • Regulatory status of contrast media under development.

The market analysis is worldwide. There are very large differences between the various regions of the world with regard to contrast media consumption. These arise from different economic situations and healthcare systems. The market is complex due to a network of agreements between the few major companies active in the field. These companies generally refrain from disclosing information, and some of the information had to be collected indirectly. Some of the information that was provided by the manufacturers was conflicting, or inconsistent, and was crossed with views of users.


The extensive research capabilities of the BCC staff were accessed to analyze worldwide markets, prices and consumption data. New trends and market developments were identified through literature searches and discussions with key industry sources. Information on use, stability, and production of the contrast media was derived from the same sources. Toxicological and regulatory issues were ascertained through discussion with industry sources, relevant regulatory agencies, and literature searches.


The substance of this report is based on interviews with principal participants in the industry and healthcare organizations. More than 200 sources contributed to this report, including marketing, R&D, technical people, distributors, agents and government agencies.

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