Why Should the Life Science Industry Care About Davos?

January 27th, 2011
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CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta went on air yesterday to explain why he, as a physician, is attending the World Economic Forum 2011 Annual Meeting taking place right now in Davos, Switzerland.
To paraphrase Dr. Gupta, health – and its impact on world economic development – is a big topic at the Davos meeting. He noted, “In terms of health care delivery, there is growing recognition by the forum that existing models simply aren’t sustainable in developed countries, and there simply isn’t enough access in the developing world. Some of that is old news, but the topics at Davos were chosen to address solutions in these areas. For example, I will be moderating panel discussions on topics ranging from personalized medicine to combating chronic disease.”
Because of the overarching health-related themes being discussed at Davos, the life science industry – particularly companies seeking to develop diagnostics and devices to address human illness – should focus on what’s taking place at Davos, as well. Following are a few of the critical themes being discussed that draw my attention:

The cost of health care is a global challenge…for both developed countries and the developing world. Simply put by Dr. Gupta, healthcare costs place a “staggering strain on world economies.”
Personalized medicine: Today, Dr. Gupta explains, we take a shotgun approach to many medical problems. I see a resurgence in the role that diagnostics will play in segmenting the market and in leading to the use of more targeted therapies.
Focus on delivering cost effective care: At least since the days when I was earning my Master’s degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins, I’ve been driven by a passion to identify ways to deliver the highest quality of health care but with the greatest cost efficiencies. My hope is that discussions at Davos will place this topic under the lens of a global microscope.
The rising burden of chronic disease on world health: Diabetes and cardiovascular disease place an enormous burden on developed and developing countries. Even the Prime Minister of Pakistan talked, at Davos, about the burden of chronic disease in his country. Start-up device, service, and biotechs are taking advantage of the opportunity to develop novel diagnostics and disease management tools to address this worldwide problem.
Emphasis on prevention: At Davos, world business leaders will also not only consider disease predisposition factors but also lifestyle, nutrition, and other environmental factors. Stakeholders across many industries – such as food producers, news media, educators, and employers of all types – are part of this conversation.
In short, many of the themes that we at Popper and Company and many others of you in the life sciences industry have long focused on are absolutely a part of the mainstream discussions taking place on the world stage at Davos. We are fortunate that global leaders are coming together to informally share insights, tools, and technologies across industries and across country boundaries. I hope that like me, you are listening.
What are your hopes for how the Davos meeting may help address global health care challenges? Are there additional global health themes you’d add to my list? We’d love to hear from you here.

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About the Author:

I founded Popper and Company with Ken Walz more than ten years ago to address inefficiencies in health care by helping life science companies develop and commercialize new technology. Today, the members of our growing team leverage their extensive knowledge of the tools and trends shaping all aspects of health care and its participants. Send me an email.