On the mend? Fillers, toxins market resilient, due for possible bounceback, analyst says

December 1, 2009
Bill Gillette
Bill Gillette

Bill Gillette is a freelance writer based in Richmond Heights, Ohio.

While the worst economic slump in decades has sharply cut into consumer demand for æsthetic products, at least one analyst says there's reason to anticipate a bounceback in the coming months.

Key Points

"I wouldn't call the market strong, but I would say it's relatively resilient, as compared with other consumer products and discretionary-spend items," says Peter J. Bye, medical supplies and technology analyst for New York-based investment firm Jefferies & Co.

"They are trying to buy a bit more time from each injection or laser treatment and waiting longer between appointments," she says.

Scaling back

Consumers have sharply scaled back their demand for dermal fillers and toxins.

Philip Werschler, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, and president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery, says his patients are "trading down, opting for injections instead of surgery, creams instead of injections, and so forth.

"In terms of purchasing psychology, patients are looking harder than ever for the best value in procedures - not just the cheapest, but the best overall combination of skill, product and safety," he says.

Mr. Bye's firm estimates that sales of botulinum-toxin products have declined globally by 5 to 6 percent in dollar terms, but are essentially flat excluding the impact of foreign exchange.

"We think therapeutic usage is still growing, while cosmetic usage has declined by roughly 12 to 14 percent year-to-date on a global basis - and is even down 7 to 10 percent in constant dollar terms," he says.

Fillers drop more

In the facial aesthetic fillers market, the decline has been even steeper, Mr. Bye notes - between 15 percent and 20 percent this year in dollar terms, "from the 40-plus percent growth in 2007 and the 5-plus percent growth in 2008."

Even botulinum-toxin giant Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA, Allergan) has not been immune to the downturn. Allergan spokesperson Caroline Van Hove says Botox sales decreased in the first nine months of 2009 compared with the first nine months of 2008.

"This is primarily due to the negative impact of a general weakening of foreign currencies compared to the U.S. dollar on our international Botox net sales, declines in consumer spending in most of our principal geographic markets, and the introduction of a competitive product in the United States in the third quarter of 2009," she says.