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Breaking taboos: the ascension of FemTechs in the healthcare market

International Women's Day, celebrated every March 8, focuses on the achievements of women over the years in the cultural, political and socioeconomic contexts, bringing special attention to regarding gender equality and reproductive issues. In connection with this, it is important to highlight the recent development of new trends in the healthcare ecosystem which focus on women’s health – including women who are cis-gender, transgender, and non-binary individuals.

From the healthcare perspective, the emerging FemTech global market can be distinguished by (i) type, such as medical devices, software as a medical devices and services; (ii) end-use, such as direct-to-consumer initiatives, hospitals, fertility clinics, surgical centers and diagnostic centers; and (iii) application, such as reproductive health, pregnancy and nursing care, and pelvic and uterine healthcare.

The so-called FemTechs have been gaining traction throughout the pandemic due to the need to maintain healthcare access for women and girls.  Such needs go beyond remote clinical settings and especially arise in gynecological, pregnancy, fertility and postpartum monitoring, as well as the care of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes. Also relevant is the statistical and historically tendency of women to be more adept than men at taking care of their health, including viaroutine checkups and periodic exams, consultations and tracking of potential diseases, and the particular supervision that women’s health requires during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, breastfeeding, breast or uterine cancer, menopause and other gender-specific concerns.

Considering the regulatory and policy issues schemes, FemTechs initiatives may be subject to a series of rules that affect the marketing of products or the provision of health services through the use of new technologies, such as the ones related to the regulation of telemedicine, medical devices, assisted reproduction techniques, clinical trials, data protection, among many others. [1]

It is important to highlight that this healthcare segment focused on the development of technological solutions for women's health generated US$18.75 billion in 2019, [2] before the pandemic started, and is estimated to hit U$1.15 billion by 2025 [3] according to the American consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan.

In Brazil, 23 startups are completely dedicated to the FemTech segmentation, providing services ranging from tracking menstruation and fertility to offering help regarding pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause. This demonstrates an opportunity for the development of many initiatives by the life sciences, healthcare and healthtech industries, such as investments in wearable devices and applications focused on patients’ treatments monitoring, telehealth platforms aimed at women (eg, the recent association between the Brazilian companies TytoCare and Alice), [4] the use of blockchain and predictive analysis tools for genetic counseling, family planning support, hormone replacement and clinical decision, and many other initiatives subject to the aforementioned Brazilian regulatory framework.

The new innovations arising in this segment are coming hand in hand with  advancements in technology in many other adjacent markets. The larger implication of all this activity is that prudent major healthcare and healthtech businesses must understand the rise of FemTech in order to prepare for these rapidly coming changes.

This article describes the current thinking at Campos Mello Advogados on these topics and should not be viewed as a legal opinion. 

Campos Mello Advogados is a Brazilian law firm which has worked in cooperation with DLA Piper LLP across the globe since 2010.

 

[1] Operating in this space means addressing a host of regulatory, investment, healthcare, banking, bankruptcy, tax, real estate, intellectual property, corporate, finance, insurance, privacy, and employment law issues, but, at this point in time  for the sake of illustration, we should highlight two undeniable trends we have been seeing: (1) Innovative business arrangements, including corporate partnering and strategic alliances, and (2) Intellectual property and technology development, exploitation and protection.

[2] EMERGEN RESEARCH. “Femtech Market”. Published on August, 2020. Available at https://www.emergenresearch.com/industry-report/femtech-market 

[3] FROST & SULLIVAN. “Menopause to Become the Next Game-changer in the Global Femtech Solutions Industry by 2025”. Published on March 8, 2022. Available at https://www.frost.com/news/press-releases/femtech-after-covid-19-how-to-break-the-bias-and-meet-womens-untapped-healthcare-needs-in-2022/ 

[4] TYTOCARE. “Brazilian Health Tech Company Alice Partners with TytoCare to Expand Telehealth Offerings with At-Home Medical Examinations”. Published on February 22, 2022. Available at https://www.tytocare.com/professionals/brazilian-health-tech-company-alice-partners-with-tytocare-to-expand-telehealth-offerings-with-at-home-medical-examinations/ 

Tags

healthtech, health research, technology, latin america, europe, north america

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