The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has come a long way during the past three decades to become one of the fundamental platforms in life sciences sector. Normally, this is a sufficiently long period for a technology to mature and the market to move to decline phase. However, the PCR industry is witnessing increasing excitement both in terms of innovation and demand. The expiry of key PCR patents is one of the major factors driving this growth allowing more companies to get involved. These new and emerging companies are actively involved in developing new applications and expanding the market to various end-use segments. Even though the technology is considered mature, the demand is still on the rise due to this market expansion. Enthusiasm in the emerging markets is particularly visible and is a major driver of the demand. Overall, these developments are offering improved accessibility to PCR-based diagnostics and other products.
Automation and multiplexing are improving the technology in terms of its ease-of-use and speed making the technology more user-friendly and effective. These critical factors have significant impact in end-use markets. For instance, physicians are adapting to PCR-based screening and disease diagnosis in critical medical diagnostics areas even in emerging countries. Responses from regulatory bodies across the regional markets are also promising, encouraging the utilization of PCR tests in various end-use segments.
Even in this almost “post-patent era” of PCR, the market players are facing significant challenges while treading in the murky waters of PCR patents. Careful analysis to identify patents that are still enforceable is needed, depending upon the markets being considered. The high cost of commercial PCR assays is another challenge, particularly in clinical diagnostics field. Alternate technologies such as NGS are also emerging as threats to the PCR market, since they have the potential to make PCR obsolete in many end-use segments as their cost efficiency improves. The emergence of dPCR could also prove to be a threat to real-time PCR in at least some of the end-use segments. Digital PCR is currently in its initial growth stages, and the application of the technology in various clinical segments is being actively promoted by the technology suppliers.
The recent report published by AcuBiz Consulting titled “The Worldwide Markets of PCR Technologies” estimates the global demand for PCR technologies in 2013 to be around $10.6 billion. The demand grew from 2012 by 6.1% in 2013. The market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 8% to reach $15.6 billion by 2018. Regionally, the report divides the global market into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific (APAC), and ROW. While North America is expected to show continuous growth trends, growing at a CAGR of 6.1%, the APAC region shows the highest growth potentials. This region is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 11.2%.