With 2014 almost in the rear-view mirror, Makovsky Health is reflecting on the storylines that stand out from the past 12 months. From global public health issues to mergers, and from US health system strains to increasing medical and health technology innovations coming to market, these are the trends that we see as defining 2014 – and setting the stage for 2015 and beyond.

What do you think are the most important stories and trends from the past year?

Infectious Disease Front and Center: The news flow may have been dominated by the Ebola outbreak in Africa and the potential epidemic fears in developed nations, but even beyond the mainstream headlines, infectious disease took center stage for the industry in 2014. In September the Obama Administration issued an executive order creating a new task force to tackle antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and refocused efforts on combatting Ebola globally. The biopharmaceutical industry is now refocusing efforts to develop new drugs to treat multi-drug resistant infections, as the growing problem threatens all developed nations.

Biopharma Still a Hot M&A Market: If you thought the $1 trillion in overall mergers and acquisitions we saw in 2013 was jaw-dropping, get ready for this year – 2014 is set to eclipse that number by more than half a trillion dollars. Pharma and biotech drove a significant portion of M&A action, with $439 billion in deals for pharma and $37 billion for biotech, well above the $82 billion and $8 billion over the same period in 2013. The market remains strong, even after the U.S. Treasury announced new anti-inversion rules in late-summer to try and stave off continued M&A aimed at giving companies a better tax position in overseas markets.

2014 FDA Approvals on Track to Eclipse 2013 Totals: NME and BLA approvals granted by the FDA currently stand at 35, which would outpace the 2013 total of 29 approvals by the Agency last year. The uptick in approvals is an interesting counterpoint to shrinking R&D budgets across pharma.

Healthcare Becoming More Mobile: As in years past, 2014 saw the continued rise of healthcare apps helping patients track, evaluate and control their health, and helping healthcare professionals care more efficiently for their patients. Today an estimated 100,000 medical and health apps are available for users. From blood pressure monitoring for patients to digital drug references for professionals, the increase access and portability of healthcare information is continuing to change the patient-physician interaction – but some in the industry and FDA are worried that the fast rise of mobile technology could put patients at risk.

Doctors Stretched Thin Across US: Although the Affordable Care Act has opened access to care for millions of Americans, patients face a growing threat of lack of access from providers, with a growing number of physicians reporting that they are stretched too thin. A September survey conducted by the Physicians Foundation found that 81 percent of physicians describe themselves as either over-extended or at full capacity, while only 19 percent indicate they have time to see more patients.

To date, 2014 has marked a year of major transition for the industry – and its standout stories are sure to shape the new opportunities and challenges ahead in 2015.

– Mark Marmur

thought leadership


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