Global Life Sciences Outlook by Deloitte

Emerging technologies are creating a transformative opportunity for life sciences, and scientific achievements are on a record pace.

The geopolitical climate is ushering in a new era led by the passage of tax reform in the United States and Brexit in the United Kingdom. In addition to embracing these changes, life sciences companies are looking for ways to meet the opportunities and challenges coming. Forward-thinking organizations will be:

  • Building an adaptable organization for the future of work
  • Building a culture of courage to help counter uncertainty
  • Building data integrity, maximizing the value of data
  • Building patient trust and centricity, across the journey of care
  • Building a smart, cross-functional regulatory approach

In order to grow, life sciences companies will need to continue to look for new partnerships and operating models. Alliances and partnerships will be particularly important for accessing external expertise and technology. And technology companies, both large and small, are already poised to disrupt the industry.


“Health life sciences” refers to the application of biology and technology to improve healthcare, and includes biopharmaceuticals, medical technology, genomics, diagnostics and digital health. The sector generates a wide range of products, including drugs, medical technology, diagnostics and digital tools.1



On the heels of a slow recovery, global prescription drug sales are forecast to grow at an impressive annual compound rate of 6.5% in the next five years. Worldwide sales are expected to be US$1.06T in 2022 (Figure 1)2. This growth is in contrast to the 2.2% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) in 2012-2016, but still under the 8.4% CAGR before the global financial crisis in 2004-20083. However, this trajectory could be tempered by pricing pressures and a potential second patent cliff4.

Although not at previous levels, most research-based pharmaceutical companies are reporting an uptick in revenue and profits. Spending on prescription drugs is expected to increase in every market except Venezuela over the next few years.

Recovery in spending will be fueled by consolidation in generics markets and increased budgets for high-priced treatments, including orphan drugs. Some companies are still struggling with patent expiries, estimated to be a US$194B risk for sales in 20225.

The industry will continue to look to emerging markets for growth, albeit not as aggressively as in the past6. Among the top 20 pharmaceutical markets in the world, eight are emerging countries supported by an increasing middle class. China is expected to reach the top three in the near future. However, constraints could come from government incentives that reduce medication reimbursements and health care costs7.

a chart of drug sales, 2008-2022

Worldwide pharmaceutical and biotech R&D is forecast to grow 2.4% per year to 2022, slightly lower than the 2.5% annual growth between 2008 and 2016. Total R&D spend is expected to reach US$18B in 2022, compared to US$156.7B in 20168. Significant innovation is coming from small niche companies focused on discovering new drugs. Less than a quarter of drugs discovered are brought to market by the big pharmaceutical companies9.

The industry is expected to continue to face challenges in R&D returns (Figure 2)10. The cost of bringing an asset to market reached record levels in 201711 and many of the largest drug developers will continue to be challenged by losses to generics12.

With an increase in the number and speed of approvals13, a new normal in R&D is triggering competition in pricing, leaving less time for a manufacturer to gain substantially for breakthrough applications14. In 2018, the new US administration promises to continue the path towards faster approvals, but the risk in accelerated approvals can be a drug turning into a market disaster15.


The orphan drug market is expected to almost double in the next five years, reaching US$209B in 2022. It’s expected that these high-cost, specialized drugs have and will continue to face pricing scrutiny by policymakers. Of the top 100 drugs in the United States, the average cost per patient per year for an orphan drug was US$140,443 in 2016, compared to US$27,756 for a non-orphan16.

According to the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), 75 orphan drugs were approved in the United States in 201717, compared to a total of 27 in 2016 and 56 in 201518. The 50 highest-selling orphan-drugs each averaged approximately US$637M in sales19. While only about 600 treatments are approved, 7,000 conditions are designated as rare in the United States20.

Major scientific advances will lead to even more rare diseases being identified and even more drugs seeking approval despite pricing pressures21.

The passage of the new US tax law reduces the orphan-drug credits that biopharma companies can claim by effectively 40%22. However, the reduction is not likely to change life sciences companies’ strategies. The orphan drug market is a strategic market that solves unmet needs. The key benefits are not just the tax credit, but the other important aspects such as the seven-year market exclusivity, faster FDA review and waived fees, and exception from the ACA branded drug pharma fee for orphan-only drugs.

a chart of late-stage portfolio, 2010-2017


Biologics are predicted to comprise more than a quarter of the pharmaceutical market by 202023. With their success, the industry’s biggest biologics face revenue threats from biosimilars and another patent cliff24.

Lack of affordability and access to biologics are driving tailwinds for biosimilars, especially in emerging markets. In the European Union (EU), countries are seeing considerable cost savings with biosimilars, even when market share is low25. Typically, biosimilars are around 30 percent less expensive.

The highest impact in US biosimilar sales is expected in the next two years, with an estimated 25 to 35 biosimilars expected to be on the US market by 202026. However, there are headwinds in the United States without a clear regulatory pathway.

The Asia-Pacific region has more biosimilars in development than anywhere else in the world, led by China (Figure 3). China has the potential to become the frontier market for biosimilar drugs27. The growth of biosimilars could push the industry into an innovative phase, even the potential for increased use of biologics28.

Improvements are being made in the manufacturing techniques used to produce biosimilars. We could see biosimilar manufacturing representing 10% or more of some companies’ global biomanu-facturing capacity in the next few years29.


Global generic drug sales are expected to make up 29.2% of the total pharmaceutical sales worldwide in 2022, compared to approximately 28 % in 2017. Emerging markets and the United States will drive demand for generics as they continue to cut health care costs30.

Generics now make up more than 80% of the volume of drugs dispensed around the world, and that percentage will continue to grow as more drugs lose patent protection. Many of the bigger products coming off patent are biologics.

a chart of Country rank by biosimilar pipelines


Oncology leads therapy areas in sales (Figure 4) and is likely to account for 17.5% of prescription drug and OTC sales by 2022, more than the next three highest therapy areas combined31. In addition to oncology, the largest CAGR growth in the top 15 therapy categories will come from immunosuppressants, dermatologicals, and anti-coagulants32.


The global personalized medicine market is forecast to reach $2.4T in 2022 at a CAGR of 11.8%, more than double the projected 5.2% annual growth for the overall health care sector33. Growth will be driven by advancements in technology and targeted therapies that are more efficient, and can provide more value. The focus is on prevention and early intervention, rather than advanced disease.

More than 40% of all compounds and 70% of oncology compounds have the potential to be personalized medicines34.

Real-world data and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are accelerating the development of the most fruitful molecules and compounds35.


Worldwide medtech sales are forecast to grow at an annual compound growth rate of 5.1%, reaching US$521.9B by 2022 (Figure 5). In vitro diagnostics is expected to remain the largest medtech segment, with annual sales of US$70B by 202236.

Ranking second is cardiology, expected to reach US$62B in sales by 2022, followed by diagnostic imaging at US$48B, and orthopedics, which has been growing slowly at 4% per year to US$44B. The top 10 companies are expected to make up 37% of the medtech market in 202237.

Global medtech R&D spending is expected to grow by 3.7% CAGR to US$33.5B billion by 2022 from around US$27B in 2017. As a percentage of sales, the R&D investment rate is forecast to decline from 6.9% in 2016 to 6.4% in 2022.

The repeal of the US medical device excise tax was not included in the recent tax reform and the medtech industry believes the tax has a significant negative impact on medical innovation38. However, the industry continues to pursue alternative legislative measures to at least continue the two-year moratorium on the tax that expired December 31, 2017.

a chart of prescription drug & OTC therapy



2017 saw a further decline in deal value from2016, resulting from global economic and political uncertainty. Large deals that were announced in 2017 tended to be focused on traditional acquisitions that were within the core competencies of the acquirer.

According to Thomson Reuters data, the largest deal through Q3 2017 is Becton Dickinson & Co. acquiring CR Bard in April, in a deal worth $24.2B. In biotech, Gilead Sciences Inc. acquired Kite Pharma Inc. for$11.1B. In pharmaceuticals, ThermoFisher Scientific, Inc. acquired Patheon NV (99.0066% interest) for $7.2B39.


In 2017, the total value of medtech venture financing deals rose considerably, despite the number of deals falling40. Finding new technologies to fuel future growth could be a challenge for large, established medtech companies41.

Exponential advances in technology make medtech ripe for innovation. Sensors, analytics, AI, and other digital health technologies are converging with medtech.

Companies have an opportunity to create new business models and pivot from product developers to solution providers. Digital health technologies appear to be attracting more venture capital investment than traditional medtech as well as attracting new types of organizations to invest in the sector.

Large medtech company partnerships are becoming an alternative to traditional venture capital investment. In comparison, biopharma has almost three times the partnership activity as medtech (Figure 6)42

a chart of Global medtech sales (US $B), 2016-2022

1 Bell, Sir John, et al., Life Sciences Industrial Strategy – A report to the Government from the life sciences sector, 20172 World Preview 2017, Outlook to 2022, EvaluatePharma, 20173 World Industry Outlook, Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals, The Economic Intelligence Unit, June 20174 World Preview 2017, Outlook to 2022, EvaluatePharma, 20175 Ibid6 Global Pharmaceuticals & Medicine Manufacturing, World Industry Report, IBISWorld, 20177 Ibid8 World Preview 2017, Outlook to 2022, EvaluatePharma, 20179 Global Pharmaceuticals & Medicine Manufacturing, World Industry Report, IBISWorld, 201710 A new future for R&D? Measuring the return from pharmaceutical innovation 2017, Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions, 201711 Ibid12 “The class of 2017’s winners and losers: A year of ‘nonstop scientific achievements’ raises troubling issues,” Endpoints, 1 January 2018: “Updated: New Drug Approvals for FDA: 2017 Hits 21-Year High,” RAPS, 21 December 2017: Ibid15 Ibid16 Orphan Drug Report, EvaluatePharma, 201717 Orphan Drug Destinations & Approv-als, FDA, 2017. Accessed 24 January 2018: Orphan Drugs in the United States, IQVIA, 201719 Orphan Drugs in the United States, IQVIA, 201720 “5 trends shaping rare disease drug development,” BioPharma Dive, 10 Apri l2017:

a chart of Biopharma has almost three times the partnership activity as medtech

21 Orphan Drugs in the United States, IQVIA, 201722 “Senate, House Agree to Cut Orphan Drug Research Credit in Half in Taxc- Bill,” RAPS, 18 December 2017: Winning with biosimilars, Opportunities in global markets, Deloitte, 201724 World Preview 2017, Outlook to 2022, EvaluatePharma, 201725 “Biosimilars in the EU: New IMS Report Shows Savings ThroughvCompetition,” RAPS, 9 May 2017: Outlook for Global Medicines through 2021, IQVIA, 201727 Deloitte Research Monthly Outlook and Perspectives, Issue XXXI, Deloitte, 201728 “Biosimilars: The Pipeline Seams Seem to Be Bursting,” Managed Care, March 2017: “What Are the Key Trends in Global Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Forv2017?” Life Science Leader, 1 December 2016: Global Pharmaceuticals & Medicine Manufacturing, World Industry Report, IBISWorld, 201731 World Preview 2017, Outlook to 2022, EvaluatePharma, 201732 Ibid33 The future awakens, Life sciences and health care predictions 2022, Deloitte, 201734 The Personalized Medicine Report, PMC, 201735 Cognitive health care in 2027, Harnessing a data-driven approach in personalized health care, Deloitte Insights 201736 World Preview 2017, Outlook to 2022, EvaluateMedTech, 201737 Ibid38 “Medical Technology Firms to Trump: GOP Forgot To Ax The Device Tax,” Forbes, 20 December 2017: ttps:// Thompson Reuters40 World Preview 2017, Outlook to 2022, EvaluateMedTech, 201741 Ibid42 Out of the valley of death: How can entrepreneurs, corporations, and investors reinvigorate early-stage medtech innovation, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, 2017

Otsuka, GSK, Bayer and other execs on balancing payers, patients and physicians

UVision360 CEO Allison London Brown: The Expertise of Entrepreneurship