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Medtech companies raised $2.4 billion in the fourth quarter, the second-strongest of the year; Q4 device M&A deals totaled $9 billion in value, led by Allergan's $2.9 billion buy of Acelity's LifeCell division. Diagnostics financings finished out the year at $721 million, an increase over the previous quarter and 2016's second-highest quarter, but diagnostics M&A activity was the lowest of the year at $87 million, with only two completed acquisitions.
New technologies enable the rapid processing of genetic information, but since gene data isn't associated with specific diseases and diseased tissues, in and of itself it isn't clinically useful. A new breed of start-ups aims to provide both the phenotypic and genotypic sides of the equation by creating databases of patients and patient samples. Still unclear is how much drug firms will pay for disease-associated gene data; genetics firms are taking various approaches to monetizing their databases, from focusing initially on high-value diagnostics to creating true target-discovery businesses, to selling their data along with associated software and services. There are also ethical issues to hammer out. The new companies must take care to protect patients' rights. They must consider the need for explicit consent to use the information collected from patients, especially when they are participating in research whose purpose is as yet undefined.
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