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Disrupt or be disrupted, that’s the question for big pharma


21 September 2017 : Blog issue N°20

“If an innovator is causing a company losses, it’s deemed threatening. If not, it’s often dismissed.”- Clayton Christensen

The calm is over – and the future for health tech may well now be here. Digital upstarts have started making inroads into “pharmaland”, most visibly in chronic diseases like diabetes and respiratory, but almost everywhere else too…and it is high time to adapt.

But pharma does not seem to see the urgency, as results from the Across Health Maturometer 2017 show: ‘Healthcare Disruption’ and ‘Big data & AI’ are still considered a low priority…

This is very much in contrast with the acceleration of the health tech market. Indeed, money is pouring from pharma to technology companies, start ups, and other ventures – with 2017 looking to be the most active & capital-intense year yet, and Q2 2017 also by far the biggest quarter ever (source: StartupHealth)

Let’s take Google/Verily as an example. After several years of “piloting”, they upped their efforts in 2015 – and 2017 will be another banner year -- includes big-ticket joint-ventures with the likes of Sanofi and GSK.

Like Sanofi and GSK, other pharmacos are entering the space, with activity increasing significantly in the past year or so.

Of course, not all is rosy in the world of health tech. As an example, Google’s Deepmind subsidiary received headwinds for using personal data from the UK’s NHS in their ambitious AI project. And Fitbit, once the undisputed leader in wearables, is being squeezed by Apple’s Smartwatch at the high end of the market and Xiaomi at the low end, losing 10 billion USD in terms of market cap in 2 year’s time.

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