Carestream hikes X-ray film prices

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | August 12, 2010
Carestream Health is boosting prices of X-ray and other medical, dental and industrial film stock for the first general price hike in at least three years, the company said Tuesday, citing skyrocketing costs of commodities like silver and oil that are used in the manufacture and shipping of the film.

"We've come to the point where we can't absorb those cost increases anymore," Jeff Nelson, director of business and product development for Carestream, told DOTmed News.

The costs are expected to increase by up to "double digit" percentages but the company declined to specify exact figures. "It really depends on the part of the world and our pricing in that part of the world, and transportation costs and specific economic reasons," Nelson said.

Much of the blame for the price increase lies with the booming cost of silver and oil, the Rochester, N.Y.-based company said. Prices of silver, which is used in film coating, rose almost 27 percent over the last year, partly fueled by uncertainty over the dollar. As of Tuesday, it traded at $18.23 a troy ounce on the New York Mercantile.

Oil is also high, rising almost 13 percent this year, and now trading at around $80 a barrel. Not only does this raise transport and energy costs, but oil is used to make polyester, which forms the base of film stock.

Despite the price increase, Nelson doesn't think it will have a big impact on budgets, when you compare the "few dollars for a sheet of film" versus the total cost of a medical imaging procedure.

"It's a big market," he said, "but for the cost of the medical imaging exam, the cost of film within the cost of that entire exam is pretty small, and the total cost to health care is pretty minimal."