At this year’s IMCAS World Congress, the most significant trends in the aesthetics industry were once again on display, highlighting strong procedure volume growth, expanded attention surrounding the safety and effectiveness of aesthetics devices, and increased regulation and oversight of related procedures. DRG’s senior aesthetics analyst Raghav Tangri was in attendance; below, Raghav provides a recap of the most substantial highlights from the 3-day conference into 5 takeaways:
- RF-energy–based devices are expected to see significantly expanded uptake going forward; this is because RF energy—unlike its laser, plasma, and ultrasound counterparts—provides more effective temperature management, which reduces the risk of skin burns. Therefore, it is expected that all major energy device companies will work toward improving their existing RF-based devices or introducing brand new ones, which will support market expansion.
- One example of such a company is InMode, which offers the Morpheus and Evoke RF-energy devices and continues to introduce improvements to its RF devices.
- Despite increased consolidation among aesthetic, pharma, and medical device companies, investors have demonstrated a preference to keep aesthetics businesses separate from other units. This trend is driven by the unique aspects of aesthetics businesses, such as the regularity of out-of-pocket payments, cash-driven transactions, relatively less rigorous regulations, and the importance of patient choice.
- For example, at IMCAS 2020, VP & Head of International Medical Aesthetics at Allergan Gerry Muhle reiterated that Allergan will continue to function independently from AbbVie once the acquisition is complete; one other major example of this can be seen in the October 2019 acquisition of Nestle Skin Health (now Galderma) from Nestle, which effectively created one of the largest independent aesthetics companies.
- The European Union MDR was a major point of focus during the conference. In a nutshell, the MDR will officially induct aesthetics products into the realm of medical devices, with all the regulations that that entails. Aesthetics companies with devices that fall under the purview of Annex XVI of the MDR will have to comply with the Common Specifications for that annex within 6 months of their publication (expected in Q2 2020). It is understood that the MDR will ultimately improve safety, effectiveness, and regulatory harmonization across the EU in the long-term, but stakeholders have expressed various concerns regarding the timelines and costs of compliance with these regulations, particularly due to a shortage of MDR-certified notified bodies and the expectation that the more strenuous regulations will require more clinical data, which may push some competitors (especially smaller, less-resourceful ones) out of the market.
- Another trend that was evident at IMCAS2020 was the industry’s growing focus on expanding the age range in its customer base and to redefine attitudes toward ageing and the social acceptability of aesthetic procedures.
- For instance, Merz Aesthetics’ “Later Haters” campaign for its Xeomin product aims to encourage women (particularly mature women who already have families and/or well-established careers, a group the company refers to as “The Reclaimers”) to disregard guilt or external judgment as a factor in their decision on whether to undergo aesthetic procedures. This is in line with previous trends in the industry that targeted younger individuals and men, and stakeholders are expected to continue to attempt to expand the aesthetics patient pool across age and gender going forward.
- The increasing use of combination treatments (such as dermal fillers with toxins or EBDs with injectables and cosmeceuticals) is rendering broad and well-integrated portfolios as the determinant of future success, subsequently driving consolidation among aesthetics players looking to expand their portfolios.
- Teoxane Laboratories and Revance Therapeutics recently agreed to a partnership that allows the companies to collaborate on selling products involved in combination treatments in tandem; at IMCAS, founder and CEO of Teoxane Valerie Taupin highlighted the combination of its RHA filler range with Revance’s DAXI neuromodulator as an example of the breadth of the companies’ combined portfolios.
Overall, the aesthetics market is poised to continue to grow at a faster rate than most other medtech and pharma markets, making it a lucrative and appealing target for companies. Along with this strong growth, various challenges—including safety and effectiveness issues, an expansion in the types of physicians (in some cases unlicensed) that are administering aesthetic treatments, and a limited patient pool—will arise; that said, it appears that regulators are trying to keep up with the rapid pace of change in this market, strengthening their regulations and bolster enforcement. Going forward, successful aesthetics players will work toward expanding their customer base, tracking and complying with regulatory changes, and continuing to provide safe and effective solutions for their customers.