Major players in health are hitting the homestretch in prep for the 2019 J.P. Morgan Healthcare Investor Conference (JPM). As investors, media, and patients alike eagerly await the announcements to be made at this annual meeting in January, they’ll also be watching the year ahead to see how these changes and innovations shape the health landscape. Once JPM comes to a close, companies will need to show as much as they tell. Here is where I predict stakeholders will say “show me” to pharma, biotech, and life sciences in 2019:
- Show Me the Money: The biotech IPO marketplace has been very welcoming this year—an extension of a market that began about six years ago. With the Moderna IPO as potentially the largest biotech IPO ever, aspiring for about $600 million, questions will emerge about whether this is a unicorn and/or a market high. Many markets are willing to reward innovation, yet at the same time concerns remain about a slowdown around the corner. With this year’s rise of Chinese biotech stocks listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange, a new source of innovation and funding are also a growing part of the mix.
- Show Me the CEO: Given the number of changes among big and small companies (and the newly formed entities following M&A), the measure of company leadership is very much a focus for JPM. In truth, “authenticity” is measured by the personal assessment of the leader – being able to see them in their element and among their investors is one of the biggest draws for the conference. Watch for CEO debuts and profiles as part of the attention.
- Show Me the Technology: Big tech moves into health as well as technology innovations gaining regulatory thumbs ups are just the beginning of what should be a transformation of healthcare. Efficiencies in delivery of care, AI and smarter care, and behavioral reinforcements that get the most of today’s solutions (through improved adherence and compliance!!) are all potential wins. The question at JPM is how much of it is window dressing vs investment worthy, i.e. substantive advances that will actually find a market and become sustainable.
- Show Me the Future: Be it a biopharma pipeline, newly announced partnership or a unique business model, all companies need to provide an update on how they are going to not only improve lives but also address the cost pressures building around the globe. Governments, business, economies and people need to understand not only an innovation, but how to afford it— through the reduced need for care or the novel delivery of care virtually or otherwise (vs needing to visit the clinic or hospital for chronic conditions); or novel financing for a one-time treatment cure for a rare disease. What the patient pays matters--no matter the insurance or other coverage.
- Show Me the Clouds: The change of control in the U.S. House of Representatives is just one of the uncertainties on the horizon. Continued trade skirmishes, signs of weakening economies, new regulatory actions as well as reputational disasters are all risks to be prepared for.