Global life sciences sector positioned for success in 2014 despite macro pressures

Press release

New York, New York,11 December 2013 ̶ Despite increased regulation, pricing pressures, and the effects of health care reform in many countries, the global life sciences sector is exhibiting resilience and reinvention as it employs new research and development (R&D) and business models to cost-effectively deliver innovation, value, and improved patient outcomes. This is according to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s (DTTL) new report, Global life sciences outlook: Resilience and reinvention in a changing marketplace.

The report outlines the top issues facing global life sciences stakeholders, provides a snapshot of activity in a number of geographic markets, and suggests considerations for companies as they seek to grow revenue and market share in 2014 and beyond. 

John Rhodes, DTTL global life sciences sector leader, says: “In 2013, the life sciences sector–comprised of the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical technology segments–was less impacted by the recent global economic uncertainty than other sectors. However, it is facing reimbursement pressure from escalating costs and overwhelmed health systems across the world. Still, an overview of recent sector performance shows that it is favorably positioned to achieve success in the next few years through increased innovation and value delivery.” 

Sector issues in 2014

Among drivers for growth in the global life sciences sector are an aging population, rising incidence of chronic diseases, technological advancements and product innovation, and certain anticipated impacts from health care reform provisions including increases in government funding and insurance coverage. Yet companies also face four major issues in 2014: navigating health care reform; delivering innovation and value; complying with regulatory changes; and operating in a smaller and connected world. The challenges and opportunities emanating from each of these areas can be both global and market-specific.

1.  Navigating global health care reform

Countries including the United States, China, Brazil, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom have recently passed substantial legislation that is accelerating the transformation of global health care from a volume- to value-based marketplace, and significantly impacting the life sciences sector. Companies know that changes emanating from health care reform are important, but some are struggling with how to respond. Those organizations that are able to understand and adapt to reform’s challenges and opportunities are likely to be the leaders in the coming years.

2.  Delivering innovation and value 

A major challenge for life sciences companies is how to productively turn innovation into commercial products. Many innovations require more than traditional small-molecule chemistry or large-molecule-based biology; they tend to require expertise in a number of scientific disciplines. Consequently, there is considerable multi-disciplinary activity occurring around today’s life sciences innovation, which requires collaboration and cooperation, both characteristics of new risk-sharing business models. Increasingly, companies large and small, domestic and international, are engaging in joint ventures, partnerships, and acquisitions to fulfill their R&D and product pipeline objectives. 

3.  Complying with regulatory changes

Regulatory compliance is a critical issue, particularly in emerging markets such as Southeast Asia, India, and Latin America. Noncompliance can be costly: It can expose an organization to revenue losses, reputational risks, and patient safety issues or, worse, criminal sanctions against individual employees that can jeopardize the future of an entire business unit or company. Compliance issues facing life sciences companies big and small include government policies and mandates, drug safety, counterfeiting, information security and privacy, intellectual property protection, corruption, and M&A/JV and other third-party risks.

4.  Operating in a smaller and connected world

Global life sciences players increasingly operate in a smaller and connected world, which presents both opportunities and challenges. Among drivers for growth are an aging population, rising incidence of chronic diseases, technological advancements and product innovation, and certain anticipated impacts from health care reform provisions including increases in government funding and insurance coverage. Opportunities in emerging markets could continue to be a driver, although many companies are looking more cautiously at these markets due to slowing growth and other pressures.

“Despite encouraging economic and demographic trends, life sciences companies’ growth prospects are being tempered by a number of challenging marketplace and enterprise issues. The sector will need to respond appropriately by incorporating global knowledge and resources with new technologies to offer innovative, differentiated products and services that assist clinicians and benefit consumers,” said Rhodes.

Explore the findings in more detail at

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