Investing in the Future of Healthcare

Published June 5, 2019 | 3 min read

A significant number of companies and investors joined us at this year’s #RBCHealthcare19 conference for two days of high-level networking, presentations and insights into the issues that matter most to the industry.

Over two days, we explored the key themes for companies and investors to focus on across biotechnology, distribution, information technology, outsourcing, REITs, hospitals, medical devices and diagnostics, outpatient services and specialty pharmaceutical sub-sectors.

Despite the diversity of stakeholders in attendance, shared challenges emerged. Here are the key talking points and takeaways from this year’s conference.

Gene Therapy – From Hype to Hope

Our panelists agree that therapy development is flourishing, with advances in manufacturing capabilities, better understanding of the types of vectors best suited to different applications, and movement from adenovirus to adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors all leading to greater clinical efficacy and safety.

The regulatory pathway for each new therapy is likely to be unique, since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is showing a forward-thinking amenability to individualized programs for different gene therapies.

But there is an important bottleneck in the space right now in manufacturing.

Gene therapy contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) have escalated costs substantially and wait time has jumped to around 18 months. This has spurred companies to move manufacturing in-house, although finding the right people with the correct expertise to hire won’t be easy. Tackling this bottleneck and establishing a reimbursement structure for one-time gene therapies will lead to more money flowing into the space to fuel additional innovation and development.

U.S. Election 2020 – the Vote on Healthcare

The next battle for the White House is underway and healthcare is high on the agenda on both sides of the aisle. But whoever wins the Presidency, healthcare spending will keep rising, according to Thomas A. Scully, General Partner, Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe.

In the current climate, any complex or controversial high-level changes are very unlikely, especially since the House of Representatives and the Trump administration are so divided. However, the push to end surprise hospital bills could prove uniting enough to buck the trend and Affordable Care Act (ACA) lawsuits, and the fight for fairer drug pricing may provide some future shocks.

In light of the move towards bundling payments, Scully predicts opportunities in managed care and managed Medicaid and figuring out how to manage dual-eligibles and Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) patients, who represent a massive amount of spending.

Drivers of Change

With innovation and technologies driving change across healthcare, there will be more opportunities and new possibilities for companies and investors. The miniaturization of technology could offer new ways to track and dispense medication; wearable devices may not only collect data but offer solutions to patients; CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) technology is giving scientists the ability to alter elements of DNA; and artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize drug development, diagnosis and treatment.

The accelerated pace of change is expected to continue, making the regular exchange of new ideas and key advancements across the industry that much more important.

Thanks to all of the companies and investors who attended this year’s conference. We look forward to our next conversation and to extending the boundaries of healthcare.

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