A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about the tug of war between medtech and pharma. While this type of competition is the most obvious interaction between the medtech and pharma industries, there are a lot of other ways that these two industry interact and overlap. Here’s part 2 on why the medical device and pharma industries (and respective market research industries!) should care about what’s going on in the other.

In some cases, device and drug use is very complementary. The use of device A leads to more use of drug B, etc. One of the more obvious examples in this case can be seen in the treatment of coronary artery disease with stents. There are three basic types of stents: bare-metal stents, or BMS (the original, and traditional stent), drug-eluting stents, or DES (a newer option, circa early 2000s), and bioresorbable vascular scaffolds, aka BVS (the very newest stent option, available in Europe but not yet the US). Each stent type is associated with a different length of antiplatelet therapy post-implantation: BMS and BVS require 1 month of antiplatelet therapy, whereas DES require one year of antiplatelet therapy. So what does this mean for pharma? When the market initially shifted in favor of drug-eluting stents, this was great news for pharma manufacturers. Not only do these devices include a drug with the device, they require way more antiplatelet therapy following the surgery compared to BMS. However, drug manufacturers looking at the horizon might realise that with the expected rapid adoption of BVS, the demand for the associated drugs is going to fall again. Therefore, the changes in coronary stent technology are directly impacting the pharma industry.

An example where the relationship goes the other way can be seen with Alzheimer’s imaging agents. Although there are a few agents on the market that can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, their benefit is questioned because there is no cure for the condition. However, once the first drug is approved that can potentially treat Alzheimer’s (expected in 2018), the use of the associated imaging agents will skyrocket.

Aside from this, there are a ton of other examples where the use of drugs and devices is very complementary. Infusion pumps, insulin pens, and other drug delivery devices are the major examples here. In some cases, there is manufacturer cross over—for example, many pharma companies offer insulin pens in addition to the insulin itself.

It’s also worth mentioning that there are a few products that blur the line between a drug and a medical device. Although we traditionally think of medical devices as an implant or surgical tool, there are some products that at a glance may look more like a drug. For example, facial injectables, cosmeceuticals, contrast agents, and sclerosants are all included under the medtech umbrella, despite bearing a significant resemblance to drugs.

So yes, the medical device and pharma industries have some striking differences, but their importance to the other industry can’t be discounted.

Interested in learning more?  View our Spectrum Report on Key Considerations for Impending Drug/Device Competition.

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