Around 25 percent of annual platinum consumption – excluding automotive demand – is industrial. Of this, medical and biomedical demand for platinum is a relatively small, yet consistent, component. In 2020, platinum demand from medical and biomedical applications was 235 koz and it accounted for three percent of total platinum demand. Today, platinum plays a major role in combating some of the most serious health issues facing the world, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Many of the medical and biomedical procedures that rely on platinum components also provide a wider social and economic benefit, reducing health spending costs and enabling better management of valuable healthcare resources. For example, platinum wire braiding techniques used in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders has led to the development of less invasive procedures with quicker recovery times.
Platinum is known for its excellent biocompatibility, radiopacity (visibility in x-rays), and electro-conductivity and is used extensively in permanent, implantable medical devices such as pacemakers, cochlear implants, and neuromodulators.
With the highest atomic number of all medically used materials, it is platinum’s high density that enables it to be seen clearly in X-ray imaging as this makes it extremely effective at absorbing X-rays rather than allowing them to pass through it. Platinum’s radiopacity is put to great use when performing delicate, life-saving procedures to treat patients with neurovascular disorders.
Platinum’s excellent mechanical strength means it can be made into tiny, complex shapes. It is ductile and can be pulled into thin and delicate wires, as well as being inert, therefore it does not corrode easily. Treatment of aneurysms, which are a bulging or ballooning of a blood vessel wall that is at risk of rupture, uses platinum wire braiding techniques.
Platinum is used to make medical devices because it is:
Platinum has been at the forefront of cancer treatment for more than forty years. The introduction of the first platinum-based anti-cancer drug, cisplatin, in 1978 revolutionized the treatment of certain cancers. Cisplatin has been especially successful in the treatment of testicular cancer, and today, with surgery and combination chemotherapy treatment, there is a cure rate approaching 99 percent for patients with stage one of this disease.
Cisplatin is a platinum compound and, when administered through an intravenous injection directly into the blood stream, it works by interacting with DNA to destroy cancer cells and prevent them from multiplying.
The ability of platinum compounds to kill off cancer cells was an accidental discovery. In 1965, US biochemist Barnett Rosenberg conducted research into the effects of an electrical field on bacterial growth. Inexplicably, the bacteria cells responded by failing to divide and dying off.
Initially, Rosenberg thought this was because of the effects of the electrical field, but further investigation led to the conclusion that the platinum electrodes used to create the electric circuit were themselves reacting with the test solution. This reaction created a platinum compound that was, in fact, responsible for killing the cells.
Building on this knowledge, scientists found that cancer cells behaved in a similar way – the platinum compound causing them to die off. From here, several years of intense research led to the development of cisplatin, selected from a range of possible molecular combinations to create an optimal compromise between toxicity and efficacy.
Cisplatin, with a 65 percent platinum content, has well known side effects and certain cancers can develop a resistance to it. Despite these drawbacks, it is still a front-line cancer treatment, although additional platinum-based therapies have since been developed to mitigate against these issues. Carboplatin, containing 52.5 percent platinum, was approved in 1986 and is used mainly to treat ovarian and lung cancers. Available since 1996, Oxaliplatin with 49 percent platinum is used to treat colorectal cancer.
Today, around half of all patients undergoing treatment for cancer receive platinum-based chemotherapy as a first-line treatment that can work alongside newer technologies such as hormonal therapy and immunotherapy.
New platinum formulations are currently in development and the hope is to improve targeting and reduce toxicity further, as well as producing a medication that can be taken orally, allowing patients to be treated at home.
Instruments that read blood gas composition are proving vital as a diagnostic tool for healthcare professionals treating the COVID-19 virus as they help to screen, diagnose, and monitor patients suffering from respiratory compromise. They can be used across a wide range of settings from emergency medicine and critical care to dialysis units or the laboratory. Platinum is the material of choice for electrodes in blood gas analyzers due to its fast response and reduced measurement error compared with other electrode options.
Platinum catalysts in the chemical sector are also playing their part and are involved in the manufacture of both polypropylene and medical-grade silicones for sought-after personal protective equipment (PPE) and other disposable medical products.
PGM catalysts are also used in the production of many active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), including antibiotics used in the treatment of some COVID-19 patients. An API is the biologically active component of a pharmaceutical product.
Medical and biomedical demand for platinum fell by six percent to 235 koz between 2019 and 2020 as a result of pandemic-related curtailment of elective procedures and other non-COVID-19 related treatment. However, it is anticipated that 2021 will see growth of five percent, with demand climbing to close to pre-pandemic levels at 247 koz.
According to the United Nations’ Environment Programme, the world’s population is set to grow to over 8.5 billion by 2050, with the number of those aged 65 or older forecasted to double by then. What is more, the World Health Organization is committed to tackling non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease and cancer through targets set out in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. In addition, the United Nations has the goal of achieving universal health coverage, reaffirming “the right of every human being, without distinction of any kind, to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”, also by 2030.
These longer-term trends – changing demographics and increasing access to advanced medical care in both developed and developing countries – augur well for the growth of platinum demand in medical and biomedical applications. For example, it is estimated that 700,000 pacemakers are fitted each year around the world – a market that is likely to increase as a result of these socio-economic factors. Demand for cochlear implants, which stood at 75,000 per year in 2016, is also forecasted to rise. Johnson Matthey – a global supplier of high-grade platinum wire and sheet used to make components for cochlear implants – anticipates that this figure could grow to over 175,000 implants per year by 2022.
Similarly, platinum in neuromodulation devices, used to treat conditions like Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy, is poised to be a growth area over the next decade, according to the International Neuromodulation Society ‒ citing a market research report from Neurotech Reports. In 2018 the market was estimated to be worth US $8.4 billion, with the potential to be worth US $13.3 billion by 2022.
If you would like to speak to us, please email email@example.com
This publication is general and solely for educational purposes. The publisher, The World Platinum Investment Council, has been formed by the world’s leading platinum producers to develop the market for platinum investment demand. Its mission is to stimulate investor demand for physical platinum through both actionable insights and targeted development, providing investors with the information to support informed decisions regarding platinum and working with financial institutions and market participants to develop products and channels that investors need. No part of this report may be reproduced or distributed in any manner without attribution to the authors. The research for the period 2019 and 2020 attributed to Metals Focus in the publication is © Metals Focus Copyright reserved. All copyright and other intellectual property rights in the data and commentary contained in this report and attributed to Metals Focus, remain the property of Metals Focus, one of our third party content providers, and no person other than Metals Focus shall be entitled to register any intellectual property rights in that information, or data herein. The analysis, data and other information attributed to Metals Focus reflect Metal Focus’ judgment as of the date of the document and are subject to change without notice. No part of the Metals Focus data or commentary shall be used for the specific purpose of accessing capital markets (fundraising) without the written permission of Metals Focus.
Any research for the period 2013 to 2018 attributed to SFA in the publication is © SFA Copyright reserved. All copyright and other intellectual property rights in the data for the period 2013-2018 contained in this report remain the property of SFA, one of our third party content providers, and no person other than SFA shall be entitled to register any intellectual property rights in the information, or data herein. The analysis, data and other information attributed to SFA reflect SFA’s judgment as of the date of the document. No part of the data or other information shall be used for the specific purpose of accessing capital markets (fundraising) without the written permission of SFA.
This publication is not, and should not be construed to be, an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. With this publication, neither the publisher nor its content providers intend to transmit any order for, arrange for, advise on, act as agent in relation to, or otherwise facilitate any transaction involving securities or commodities regardless of whether such are otherwise referenced in it. This publication is not intended to provide tax, legal, or investment advice and nothing in it should be construed as a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any investment or security or to engage in any investment strategy or transaction. Neither the publisher nor its content providers is, or purports to be, a broker-dealer, a registered investment advisor, or otherwise registered under the laws of the United States or the United Kingdom, including under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 or Senior Managers and Certifications Regime or by the Financial Conduct Authority.
This publication is not, and should not be construed to be, personalized investment advice directed to or appropriate for any particular investor. Any investment should be made only after consulting a professional investment advisor. You are solely responsible for determining whether any investment, investment strategy, security or related transaction is appropriate for you based on your investment objectives, financial circumstances and risk tolerance. You should consult your business, legal, tax or accounting advisors regarding your specific business, legal or tax situation or circumstances.
The information on which this publication is based is believed to be reliable. Nevertheless, neither the publisher nor its content providers can guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information. This publication contains forward-looking statements, including statements regarding expected continual growth of the industry. The publisher and Metals Focus note that statements contained in the publication that look forward in time, which include everything other than historical information, involve risks and uncertainties that may affect actual results and neither the publisher nor its content providers accepts any liability whatsoever for any loss or damage suffered by any person in reliance on the information in the publication.
The logos, services marks and trademarks of the World Platinum Investment Council are owned exclusively by it. All other trademarks used in this publication are the property of their respective trademark holders. The publisher is not affiliated, connected, or associated with, and is not sponsored, approved, or originated by, the trademark holders unless otherwise stated. No claim is made by the publisher to any rights in any third-party trademarks.
As the world's leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, CME Group is where the world comes to manage risk. Comprised of four exchanges - CME, CBOT, NYMEX and COMEX - we offer the widest range of global benchmark products across all major asset classes, helping businesses everywhere mitigate the myriad of risks they face in today's uncertain global economy.
Follow us for global economic and financial news.