Prostate cancer patients driving penile implant boom

There's a boom in an often unspoken part of the medical device industry: prosthetic penile implants. And Bloomberg reports that prostate cancer patients seeking to restore sexual function damaged by current treatments are driving the trend.

As the article notes, two companies have already carved out a sizeable part of the market--Coloplast A/S in Denmark and AMS, a unit of Endo Solutions based in Minnesota. And they're experiencing a booming business alongside the sobering notion that more than 2 million men in the U.S. are now prostate cancer survivors. Prostate cancer treatment often calls for removal of the prostate gland itself, and that can cause impaired sexual function in half of men who face the treatment option, the story explains.

Of course, medications offer one line of treatment. And if those drugs fail (phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors), then some patients pursue hormones, which can be injected right into the penis itself. That makes a penile implant device the next treatment option. Penile implants are often built to be inflatable, by way of saline stored next to the bladder in a reservoir, Bloomberg explains.

They're not cheap. Penile implants made by both Coloplast and AMS cost about $12,000 each, according to the story, versus hormone injections and Viagra that can cost $2,500 over two years.

AMS believes the global market is worth $1.7 billion annually, with $500 million of that in the U.S. AMS calls the space the "erectile restoration market," and they see it growing robustly as patients become more aware of the option and interest in implants--and acceptance--increases over time.

- read the Bloomberg story