JUVE Law Firm of the year

Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare

Digital health is blurring sector boundaries

The new anticorruption law caused quite a stir in the industry last year, triggering a correspondingly high need for advice: after a hard-fought battle, the Bundestag passed the law to combat corruption in the healthcare system in mid-April. It is now a criminal offence to bribe practicing physicians – the new law has thus led to pharma companies becoming more aware of how they act when working with such medical practitioners.

The interdisciplinary topic of digital health has been on everyone’s lips for a while now. This rings especially true for the use of medical devices – and also pharmaceuticals – where digital technologies are becoming increasingly commonplace: e.g. the use of electronic media in clinical trials, remote treatments, electronic patient records, data transfer and patient apps. Besides the pharma and medical products industry, companies from the electronics industry and the social media environment are now viewed as sought-after clients for advice on pharmaceuticals and healthcare. The playing field for specialized lawyers is thus becoming more and more diverse.

It's all about consolidation

Large transactions have also kept the sector on its toes over the past year. There was plenty of activity, not only regarding hospitals and care homes but also in the pharmaceuticals industry: Boehringer Ingelheim sold its OTC division, including a number of over-the-counter medications, to Sanofi and acquired the latter’s veterinary medicine division Merial. Following Pfizer’s takeover of the biosimilar manufacturer Hospira, the rights to develop and distribute the biosimilar infliximab in Europe were sold to Sandoz. The lively transaction arena involving strategic and also financial investors is fueling the internationalization and consolidation of the healthcare sector.

An increasingly diverse advisory landscape

The ever more international and, right now, transaction-driven instructions are playing into the hands of practices from large firms: for instance, Baker & McKenzie, Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, but also Latham & Watkins do well here with cross-border transactions and projects requiring profound industry knowledge coupled with M&A experience. Due to their complexity, especially with regard to asset deals, lawyers with regulatory knowledge will play a more and more significant role. Hogan Lovells has positioned itself exceptionally well for all things digital.

Alongside large firms, specialized boutiques are also claiming their rightful place in the market. For example, Dierks + Bohle, Möhrle Happ Luther and Sträter are virtually the only players advising on the law on the reorganization of the pharmaceuticals market (AMNOG) as well as price negotiations with the G-BA. They are also well set up for the future, when the imminent early benefit assessment of medical products will lead to a greater need for advice. Furthermore, young practices such as that at Meisterernst are proving particularly capable of positioning themselves well in the market, thanks to the high demand for advice on the anticorruption law and compliance matters. Moreover, Novacos Heil Hübner Natz Oeben Stallberg, a new boutique that has recently emerged, is looking to win over the market with its mix of core regulation expertise and corporate experience.

 


 

The following comments deal with firms that provide advice to the German pharmaceuticals and healthcare sector. The German healthcare system is undergoing huge changes that challenge all players in the sector. Advice in this area covers an increasing number of legal fields. The focus still remains on providing legal advice to manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and medical products – and thus on regulatory, social and unfair competition issues – and that is helping to mold the reputation of firms active in this sector.

Expertise in ?patents, ?antitrust and ?public procurement also continues to play a decisive role. Other chapters that may be relevant are ?IT, ?dispute resolution (product liability), ?distribution, ?trademarks and unfair competition and ?food law.


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