Ageing population demands oncology, med device products

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The market for age-related treatments is buoyant, as technological advancements across the life sciences industry continue to help older people lead healthier, longer lives.

As well as more and better treatments, there are also steadily more people entering the 65+ demographic. In the US and the west, this is partly due to the swell of post-war baby boomers creeping its way up the population pyramid.

While the growth of this patient population is often thought of as western trend, it’s actually a global phenomenon that’s occurring to a greater extent in developing countries.

Between 1970 and 2000, life expectancy in the developed world increased from 69 to 74, while in the developing world the increase was twice as large, from 54 to 64, partly due to better drugs and improved healthcare standards.

As a result, the U.N. forecasts there will be 2 billion people over 60 in the year 2050, more than three times the current total.

Pharmaceuticals

An area of heightened research activity is oncology. Cancer disproportionately affects the elderly, one reason why the need for better cancer therapies is at an all-time high.

Governments are taking special measures to promote the availability of oncological products, and many countries have put in place accelerated approval procedures for new drugs. In the UK, more than £1 billion has been invested in the Cancer Drug Fund, enabling pharmaceutical companies to gain reimbursement for more expensive treatments not normally approved by the National Health Service.

Meanwhile, the Dementia Discovery Fund, also established by the UK Government, has raised over £68m and has attracted investment from Pfizer, GSK, J&J, Lilly and Biogen, as well as the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK.

On the biotech side, stem cell research has yielded positive results in the fight against diabetes, with recent findings promising the possibility of exciting new treatments in the future.

Medical devices

The medical device industry is experiencing strong growth in the geriatrics sector. This is particularly true of orthopedics, a market that’s expected to be worth over $40 billion by the end of the decade. Also highly in demand are devices that aid mobility, vision or hearing, cardiovascular devices and surgical implants.

One of the most dynamic orthopedics markets outside of the U.S. is Japan, a country which tends to value more expensive, higher quality devices, such as those with advanced flex capabilities. Japan already accounts for around half of revenue in the Asia-Pacific orthopedic device market, and much of this demand is met by western countries able to supply devices not offered by domestic manufacturers.

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