article 22

At first sight, EU policy on mergers and acquisitions might not need to concern patients and frontline healthcare workers too much. However, a subtle shift in the rules on whether two companies can agree to become one could have a profound impact on access to medical innovation. To understand why this might be, it’s important to think about where new technologies come from – and how they travel the complex path to the end user (either a patient or a clinician). First, it is no secret that small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) are a key source of tomorrow’s technologies. Start-ups are typically established to develop an idea that its founders hope could solve a problem, such as treating a disease or diagnosing illness. Anyone who has met medtech entrepreneurs will recognise the enthusiasm that drives individuals and small teams to address unmet health needs. Of course, not all will succeed. For those that do, developing a viable technology in a field such as diagnostics, monitoring or implantable devices is challenging. It is not enough for the product to work. Some of the biggest hurdles come when a company seeks to scale their business up and bring their technology to market. Achieving this in a timely fashion requires considerable investment, as well as expertise in regulatory and reimbursement. Joining forces to reach the market One well-worn path to market is to join forces with another company with the experience required. This is where mergers come in. Companies with complementary expertise often pair up. In some cases, a larger firm absorbs a smaller one because it has a game-changing technology. In return, the smaller partner has access to the infrastructure and expertise needed to go to the next level. It comes with defined rules and processes. Long-standing EU rules are in place...