The health sector takes on greater relevance: all eyes are on this industry. Not only because immunization against Covid depends on it and, to a large extent, the way out of the crisis, but also because the pandemic has triggered health prevention, although, for now, individual. In a still complex 2021, with most areas under pressure, analysts see accelerating trends, such as the telemedicine, payment for results and investment in R&D; or important conjunctural changes that may remain after their end, such as the rise of collaboration between competing companies. In addition to the boom in gene therapies, such as those based on messenger RNA technology, which were already under development but have picked up speed with the coronavirus, to address a wide variety of diseases.
“It is one of the megatrends, a defensive theme and one of the most benefited. It has been revealed in the search for the vaccine and in the need for prevention and diagnostics, with companies with fast growth and high potential margin. In fact, the democratization of healthcare is a major growth engine. It is expected that in 2020 alone there will have already been one billion virtual visits to healthcare in the world, ”says Patricia de Arriaga, deputy general manager of Pictet AM in Spain.
Tazio Storni, manager of the group, adds: “As the world ages, there are more age-related diseases, and keeping people healthy for longer is key to curbing healthcare spending.”
Álvaro Carpintero, partner at McKinsey and leader of healthcare in Iberia, it perceives “a drastic increase” in the public’s expectations towards innovation, access to therapies and the response to medical needs. A change that can be permanent, he predicts. In addition to the explosion of telemedicine and the increased demand for disease management, digital therapeutic services and products thanks to some relaxation of regulation.
“Many are reluctant to visit a hospital now, but are more open to sharing and leveraging personal health data to prevent illness,” he says. Which will lead pharmaceutical companies to review their product and price portfolio, says Carpintero.
Greater business collaboration
For Marc Booty, Senior Manager at Pictet AM, “What is most encouraging is the level of collaboration observed in a historically opaque industry. Pharmaceutical companies, life sciences and healthcare equipment companies have deployed advanced technologies and demonstrated a remarkable willingness to cooperate ”. Stand out Sanofi and GSK, AstraZeneca and the Oxford University O Pfizer and BioNTech, main manufacturers of the vaccine against Covid-19.
“We have seen competing companies sharing data, with publications even before the review of other scientists. The speed of collaboration has increased substantially ”, insists Lydia Haueter, co-manager of Pictet Biotech.
Telemedicine and payment for results accelerate in the sector
To advance in this sense, it is key that “the industry abandons short-term profit maximization strategies in favor of a model focused on the long term and on the patient,” says Booty.
Haueter also expects a rise in healthcare spending in the coming decades, above the current 10-15% of world GDP in advanced economies, and from technological innovation. “Two thirds of 7,000 drugs in development have biotechnological origin,” he says.
Healthcare explodes and a shift in focus to prevention is observed
And a new way of management. “The system is slowly approaching a value-based model, which involves paying for results. This will change the focus to prevention and highly effective treatments, which minimize costs and maximize health, ”Storni envisions.
Regarding the areas that will pull the most in the sector, oncology and immunology continue to lead and those of Spanish society: cardiology, respiratory and digestive systems, details Manel Peiró, director of the Executive Master in Management of Health Organizations of Esade, in Barcelona, who criticizes the “excessive colonization of politics in the system, with institutions very rigid and bureaucratized ”.
From the consulting firm McKinsey they observe other patterns: a possible reduction in costs by health care providers if the crisis continues and the expansion of access to products and services; the rise in waiting lists depending on how the third wave behaves; falls in sales of flu and expectorants due to social distancing measures and an increase in oral anticoagulants, antidiabetics, sleeping pills, anti-inflammatories (for teleworking) and prevention against Covid (vitamin C, gels).
In addition to greater pressure on the profitability of R&D as governments review their health priorities. This will force companies to decide what commercial and scientific bets they will carry out among the new innovations that have emerged in the last decade (treatments with monoclonal antibodies, recombinant proteins, tissue, cellular or gene replacement therapies), alerts Álvaro Carpintero, partner of the signature in the Madrid office in the health area. And it envisions a recovery from mergers and acquisitions.
The companies that have benefited the most at this juncture have been the pharmaceutical companies, especially those that have a therapy or vaccine against the virus; those for the distribution of medicines, medical equipment and sanitary protection material. And the least, those of health services, he indicates.