The market for home medical diagnostic products is skyrocketing, according to a new study by Packaged Facts, a New York City-based research firm. The market has maintained double-digit annual growth since the 1980s, and 1992 will prove no exception. The study estimates that growth will hit 14% this year, pushing sales to $1.038 billion, the first time the market has passed the $1 billion mark.

According to David A. Weiss, president of Packaged Facts, "The success of home medical testing represents both the triumph and tragedy of the American medical system. It's a great feat to give average people the means to monitor their medical status at home. But it's a great tragedy that so many Americans are so profoundly in need of these home diagnostic procedures simply because they have no access to professional medical care." 

There are three different segments in the market - blood & urine tests (which includes diabetes-monitoring products, fecal occult blood tests and cholesterol testing kits); women's diagnostic tests (including pregnancy, ovulation and urinary tract infection kits); and blood pressure tests (which also monitor pulse rates). The combination of "tragedy" and "triumph" that Weiss refers to has enabled all three segments in the market to experience substantial growth in the past five years, though their growth patterns have varied somewhat.

Blood and urine tests annual growth (in terms of retail sales) ranged from a low of 11% in 1988, to a high of 19% in 1991. The difference will be split in 1992, with a 16% boost to sales of $721 million.

Annual sales growth of women's diagnostic tests has been even more volatile, increasing from 17% in 1988, to 28% in 1990, then falling to 10% in 1991. Growth in 1992, is estimated at 11%, which will push retail sales to $ 198 million.

The blood pressure tests segment has displayed the most consistent annual pattern, gradually declining from a 12% rate in 1988, to sales of 7% in 1992. This will bring the segment's total sales to $120 million.

According to Packaged Facts, the future will see the growth rates of the different segments converge to within three points of each other. Annual growth for blood and urine tests will decline gradually, slipping to 13% by 1996, when sales will reach $1,295 million. Diagnostic tests will follow an analogous pattern, slipping to 11% by 1996, when retail sales will reach $305 million. Blood pressure tests growth is heading in the other direction, following a mild upward curve which will bring the annual rate to 10% in 1996, lifting the segment to sales of $174 million.

Together, the three segments' future progress will enable the category as a whole to stay within a point of its current 14% growth rate through 1996, when sales will reach the $ 1.774 billion mark.