Tag: medtech

Food for Thought: Crowd-funding – A Useful Financing Strategy for Healthcare Companies?

Crowd-funding is a widely discussed and disputed financing approach these days. It has proven to work in many industries, including the entertainment sector. But what implications will it have for the healthcare industry? Will it have any impact on healthcare at all?

So far, there are only few examples of crowd-funded healthcare ventures. One of them is the Rare Genomics Institute, a US-based non-profit organization dedicated to providing better and faster diagnostics and therapies for rare diseases. They decided for a personalized approach by putting up individual cases of rare disease sufferers on their website and organizing funding for the diagnosis and treatment of the affected patients. Thereby, Rare Genomics Institute provides treatment opportunities for patients who otherwise would not be able to pay their medical bills, as these kind of therapies (and diagnostics) are usually not funded by healthcare providers.

What seems to work as a fundraising approach for individual cases in the US still has to prove its viability in other regions of the world – and in a larger healthcare context. Could expensive drug development eventually be financed by crowd-funding? According to an article in Genetic Engineering News, there is currently not much evidence that biopharmaceutical companies could benefit from crowd-funding, as their financing requirements are significant and long-term oriented. In fact, there are only very few examples of biopharmaceutical companies which have managed to close a financing by crowd-funding, e.g. cancer immune therapy company Urodelia (France). However, the financing volume has not been disclosed. Others, like AMD Therapy (Germany), a fund dedicated to finance the development of novel therapeutics to combat age-related macular degeneration, or Selexel (France), which is developing cancer therapies based on RNA interference, are still raising funds. Interestingly, AMD Therapy aims to raise as much as EUR 60 million by crowd-funding – much more than other biopharma companies in Europe were able to raise by private equity financing during the past 12 months.

At the end of the day, many questions are still unanswered. Will private sponsors continue to be willing to pay a stranger´s medical bills in the long run? Will start-up healthcare companies financed by crowd-funding eventually have to fulfill strict reporting and transparency requirements?


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Food for Thought: Future Benefit Assessment of Medtech in Germany

Germany´s Law on the Stabilization and Structural Reform of the Statutory Health Insurance (Versorgungsstrukturgesetz) came into effect January 1st, 2012. For medtech companies it is important that the law introduces a novel instrument of the statutory healthcare system’s Joint Federal Committee G-BA for the assessment of innovative medical technologies. This novelty – the so-called “trial provision” for innovative medtech methods – has the advantage of not summarily excluding methods whose benefit is not immediately clear.

Dr Rainer Hess, Chairman of G-BA, in January detailed the plans of G-BA for the assessment of innovative medical technologies: “We are not assessing medicinal products, such as pacemakers or endo-prostheses,” he said during the recent MedInform conference “Versorgungsstrukturgesetz 2012” hosted by BVMed, the German Medical Technology Association. “We are evaluating medical diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in which medical devices may play a role.”

The trial provision, he added, would offer the opportunity to conduct representative studies of novel procedures, if adequate evidence is not available and novel studies are not to be expected.

Hess said G-BA will expect the demonstration of an additional benefit as compared to existing methods.  To determine this additional benefit, G-BA will lay out study requirements in a guideline and assign an institute with conducting the study. Manufacturers will have to contribute financially to the study – otherwise the device can be excluded from reimbursement.

Germany’s Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Healthcare (IQWiG) will then furnish a scientific opinion. Finally, G-BA will host a hearing, including experts, and subsequently make a decision about reimbursement.

Assessment can be demanded by the manufacturers but also from a statutory health insurance company.

Further information can be found at the webseite of BVMed – The German Medical Technology Association

Food for Thought: How Can Biotech & Medtech Companies Benefit from SEO?

There are a lot of service providers offering Search Engine Optimization (SEO). But what do biotech and medtech companies really need to increase their online visibility? Three things are essential in our view:

First, if someone has heard about your enterprise, he or she should find your company’s name and website among the top three entries of Google’s search engine hit list. Ideally this should also work if the user spells the name wrong.

Second, a user should find your company by typing in a short string of keywords. As an example, an investor, journalist etc. might be interested in looking for biotech companies developing novel antibodies for the treatment of baldness. In this case your company should show up on the first page of Google hits if the user has typed in “biotech” “antibodies” and “baldness” or “novel treatments” and ”baldness”.

Third, your company should show also up in search results covering a broader field. In the example given above, a search engine should retrieve your company’s name and website for “biotech” and “antibodies” and rank them as high as possible.

The rest of SEO is negligible for biotech and medtech companies as they are not selling consumer goods. Did you ever meet a potential collaboration partner who has screened thousands of Google hits related to your company? Probably not. If you are lucky, he may have read about your company in one of the important trade publications and already has you on his radar. If you are not so lucky, he may wonder why he has never read anything about your company in one of those important trade publications – despite your leading-edge technology and thousands of Google hits.

But how to accomplish the three goals mentioned above? There are no tricks involved – feel free to spend a lot of time and money trying to outsmart Google’s algorithms but you will learn that Google adapts faster than a bacterium acquires resistance to penicillin.

SEO success is based on carefully crafted key messages on your company, a bit of HTML editing and constant work to keep your website up-to-date, presenting new and interesting and – above all – relevant content.

The main task is to carefully think about the keywords important for your business. These need to be presented on your website in a way that Google’s earch engine can see and recognize them. This requires basic knowledge of HTML – not a lot more. The most important task is continuous communication – keep the world updated by adding news and novel information and by providing useful links, e.g. to pharma and academic partners, articles, patents, wikipedia entries relevant for your business, official statistics, market data, etc.

Thereby, you will not only ensure that your company shows up in search engine results prominently, but you will also build your company´s reputation among people interested in your field.

If you want to know more, please do not hesitate to contact us.