The healthcare sector is holding up

The healthcare sector is holding up

While the early days of the Covid-19 crisis saw indiscriminate sell-offs across sectors, through this period we have seen a paradigm shift where companies providing long-term solutions to society’s critical needs have proven resilient to continued uncertainty.

The healthcare sector was particularly quick in rebounding from the initial pullback, but performance of companies within the sector has been varied.

While social distancing restrictions and the scale of the global pandemic response has disrupted typical healthcare provision, deferring elective surgeries and suspending medical trials, it has brought to the fore telehealth providers and medtech companies producing wearables.

Some of the strongest performers through the first half of 2020 have been in medical devices and life science sectors. The latter being companies we term as impact enablers – companies providing crucial equipment and services to pharmaceutical and biotech businesses to support their delivery of innovative medicines that help treat and cure diseases.

The human and economic cost of diseases such as diabetes and obesity is huge and increasing; best illustrated with diabetes, which accounts for 11 per cent of worldwide deaths annually and accounts for $760bn (£611bn) a year in direct health expenditure.

Diabetes is one of the world’s four major noncommunicable diseases. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the number of adults worldwide with diabetes is expected to increase 51 per cent from 463m people currently by 2045,, as a result of rising incomes in developing countries. 

Across geographies and demographics, poor diet has been associated with almost 20 per cent of all diabetes-related deaths over the past decade. 

Within these areas, the operations of multiple companies are aligned with the UN’s sustainable development goals around promoting global health and wellbeing. Namely, target 3.4: by 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being; and, target 3.8: to achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential healthcare services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.

Big pharma Novo Nordisk is currently playing an integral role in equipping the healthcare sector solutions to the dual challenges of diabetes and obesity. They are the global leader in insulin production with a market share of 29 per cent and customer reach of 30m. 

The company provides products for all types of diabetes and is continuously looking for new product innovations, such as the new generation of glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) products.

GLP-1 drugs have better efficacy in managing blood glucose levels and lead to lower cardiovascular and severe hypoglycaemia risks.

As such, the treatment has the potential to improve health outcomes with lower comorbidities, and weight loss benefits could help tackle obesity by helping reset the metabolism to a lower basal rate.

Last year, the company secured regulatory approval for Rybelsus, the world’s first and only GLP-1 medicine in a tablet form.