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Biopharma and medtech, growing convergence to tackle global health challenges

The line between these two areas has become blurred and is taking us towards a new business model

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05.12.2017

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The biopharmaceutical industry (biopharma) is increasingly interested in acquiring medical technology (medtech) to provide innovative, effective solutions to the main global diseases. The line between these two areas has become blurred and is taking us towards a new business model. Four Catalan companies that are deeply involved in this spoke at the latest Lessons Learned session organized by Biocat and CataloniaBio with collaboration from the Health Tech Cluster, on 29 November at the Barcelona Science Park (PCB).

CataloniaBio Secretary General Melqui Calzado opened the debate looking at patient care that “requires ever more personalized, comprehensive, empowered care, which means the industry has to agree and adapt to this convergence.”

 

Personalized medicine and empowering patients

In this field, Devicare is a leader. Rosendo Garganta, founder and CEO of the company, was the first to point out that “in health, we need solutions and services with real, measurable results.” To do this, Devicare combines biotechnology, medical technology and information technology (IT). Their results so far have been two first-in-class solutions for self-monitoring chronic conditions (Lit-Control and Tao-Control).

In the same line, Albert Mascarell, CEO of aScidea, explained that his company was founded to “provide bioinformatics services and now we are a preventive and personalized medicine laboratory. This includes patient self-awareness so that pharmaceutical or biopharmaceutical proposals adapt to us, not the other way around.” In 2016, manufacturer of active ingredients LipoTrue-Primaderm acquired 51% of aScidea.

“We believe in always pushing the limits, exploring and analyzing whether what we’ve done is applicable where we originally thought or somewhere else,” explained Albert Giralt, general manager of Avinent, the benchmark firm in dental implantology that has moved into digital health and 3D printing.

Alcura director Eduardo Sales highlighted how the combination with IT has put them in a great place for home delivery.

All four companies highlighted that their initial vision when starting up the company was definitely not the same as where they are today. The evolution of technological research and patient needs has been key in developing new lines of products and services.

We’re entering a new era in which medicine will no longer be curative, but biological,” said Mascarell. Not only will we have drugs to cure, but also “nutritional supplements, diet monitoring, and services to supplement pharmacological or behavioral treatment,” he clarified.

 

Integrating patient pathway into the healthcare system

During the debate, there was agreement across the board that society is ready to take charge of its own health and disease monitoring. The experience of these companies, however, has led its leaders to question the public administration block, “which doesn’t do any innovative public procurement.” Garganta affirmed that “until the product is part of the public system, it can’t get off the ground.” In the same line, Sales highlighted that “there are countries where the public administration pays for them and they have been proven to improve patient progress and decrease healthcare spending.”

Although this is one of the most significant challenges, it must also be noted that the various stakeholders need to be aware of the direction that we have to head in new business models. Giralt also highlighted the importance of technology training to make sure professionals are up to the new circumstances: “Training for physicians has a clinical aspect, but technology is on top of that. As long as there is a technological side to their training, no matter how small, we will be able to move forward.”

 

LessonsLearned

From left to right: Melqui Calzado (CataloniaBio), Silvia Ramírez (Biocat), Albert Mascarell (Ascidea), Rosendo Garganta (Devicare), Eduardo Sales (Alcura), Albert Giralt (Avinent) and Manel Pretel (HealthTech Cluster)

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