On 9 November 2015, Lifesciences professionals from around the world gathered to discuss the industry’s hottest topics at the CMS Global Lifesciences Forum 2015. In this report, we summarise the challenges facing the sector today and the possible solutions offered to help you overcome them. Many of the industry experts also highlighted the need for continued innovation and reminded us that the future is already, at least partly, here.
Following the economic downturn of 2008, the market had been in decline. We are, however, seeing recovery kick in. The pharmaceutical market now sees more risk for higher rewards as companies look at early stage assets to solve their competition issues. To flourish in the highly regulated, and fragmented, medical devices environment, companies must consolidate to grow. Suppliers need to offer the whole package on a global scale to stay competitive.
The medical industry is under increasing legal pressure, particularly due to a consumer-friendly risk environment. We can see this from restrictive legislation and two recent landmark cases: the PIP (Poly Implant Prothèse) case, concerning a French company that supplied thousands of women with defective breast implants, and Boston Scientific which dealt with pacemakers and defibrillators. The dangers of liability costs are beginning to outweigh risk. It is important that manufacturers focus on compliance and spend more in the R&D phase to save money down the road.
Now that people are almost constantly online and more than half of all connected devices are smartphones, it has never been easier to understand consumer needs and reach them wherever they are. Google revealed that 1 in 20 searches is health-related, meaning there are huge opportunities in targeted advertising. With the smartphone revolution, an increasingly powerful new set of tools – from attachments that can diagnose an ear infection or track heart rhythms to an app that can monitor mental health – can complement our use of doctors, cut costs, speed up the pace of care and give more power to patients.
A number of devices that were once just science fiction are now being used in the Lifesciences sector. Surgeons can use Google Glass to see patients’ vital signs while they operate, smartwatches can track a whole host of variables and report back to the doctor, contact lenses can measure blood sugar levels and there is even a pill that can track basic bodily functions from inside the body.
With better technology comes a smarter use for the data produced. Computer scientists can now produce complex algorithms that allow for huge amounts of data to be analysed quickly. Such analysis allows doctors to diagnose and treat patients quickly without having to wait for data to be sent to a lab and returned. This does, however, have implications for data protection.
Nutraceuticals are nutritional products that provide health and medical benefits, and the market for them is growing. Unfortunately, a lack of global harmonisation is hindering innovation in the sector. Strict EU regulation and a precarious legal environment in the US means that cross-border marketing is a costly struggle.
EU regulation on trade secrets is changing. However, even if the new Directive is implemented, it still offers little in the way of concrete definitions and guidelines. The Directive will certainly also have an impact on the current discussion around publication of clinical trial data and the new European Medicines Agency (EMA) transparency policy.