Fisher & Paykel Healthcare is branching out of intensive care with a new range of devices that has the potential to double the market for its respiratory products.

The company designs and makes products for an intensive care ventilation market worth about US$300 million ($482 million) worldwide.

Chief executive Michael Daniell said the new range of respiratory interfaces - devices which enable connection of a medical gas supply to a patient - could double the number of patients and potential market to US$600 million.

"With these devices we believe it will help us move into applications in intensive care where they are not using a ventilator but still require oxygen therapy, also help during the transition from being ventilated," Daniell said. "Probably most significantly, though, it will help us move into the non-intensive care situation, call it the respiratory ward, where patients require only oxygen."

Growth in this market was not going happen overnight.

"In reality, these devices form part of a five to 10-year plan we have for continuing to grow this part of our business."

The new respiratory interfaces have been developed for use across a variety of medical applications including non-invasive ventilation, oxygen therapy, humidity therapy and resuscitation.

F&P Healthcare shares closed yesterday up 13c at $4.45.

David Lane, head of research at UBS, said: "We see the potential for not insignificant valuation upside if they are able to replicate the market shares in these new product groups that they have across their existing product range."

F&P Healthcare designs, manufactures and sells heated humidification products and systems for respiratory care and treating obstructive sleep apnoea in more than 90 countries.

The new interfaces have so far been introduced in New Zealand, Australia and selected international markets.

The new products took about a year to develop and will enter a field where there are already a number of competitors.

Daniell said ease of application, comfort and better results for the patient would give the devices a competitive advantage.