Finland - Healthcare Finland - Healthcare
Finland boasts a rapidly growing ecosystem for health startups. International investors have taken notice of the potential of Finnish startups. The amount of venture capital that Finnish startups and growth companies of all sectors have received was the highest in Europe in relation to GDP between 2013-2017, see Venture Capital Association Finland, and the lion’s share of that capital has gone to the healthcare care/biotech and ICT sectors, see Venture Capital Association Finland report 2018. Growth and renewal in the health sector received a boost in the spring of 2014 with the Finnish Government’s announcement of its “Health Sector Growth Strategy for Research and Innovation Activities, Roadmap for 2016-2018.” The strategy identified the health industry as a new important focus area, which has eased the process of getting funding for health R&D organizations. Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has continued to implement the growth strategy with its eHealth and eSocial Strategy 2020, designating the health sector as one of the core industries for Finland’s future. As part of the growth strategy, a proposal for a national genome strategy has already been announced, while the eHealth and eSocial Strategy 2020 is being implemented. The Finnish Government was preparing a Health, Social Services and Regional Government reform that was supposed to be put into operation by 2019, but due to disagreements in the Government and Parliament, the reforms were discontinued on March 8, 2019. The reform was expected to change the traditional structure of primary healthcare significantly by saving public spending and opening opportunities to private sector providers. More information can be found at Regional Government, Health and Social Services Reform.
Finland is the second most advanced digital economy in the EU and this also extends to healthcare. Finland is a pioneer in health-related digitalization. National health registries have been held in databases since the 1960s. Today, the national digital patient data repository covers both the public and private healthcare sectors. All Finns have online access to their health records and their e-prescription history, which makes the Finnish health data unique in terms of breadth and depth. The healthcare system has also accumulated blood and tissue samples in biobanks for a good many years. From the research point of view, the Finnish legislation on biobank operations is the most progressive set of laws in the world, and it is being further revised and improved in a research-friendly manner. In the fall of 2017 a unique study that combines genome information with digital health care data was launched. The FinnGen Research Project plans to analyze up to 500,000 unique blood samples collected by a nation-wide network of Finnish biobanks. The project is expected to continue for six years, with a current budget of $66 million. Funding research partners include several U.S. companies like Abbvie, Biogen, Celgene, Genentech, MSD, and Pfizer. This project has four main aims: to produce medical innovations by combining health registry and genome data; to support Finland in becoming a pioneer in biomedicine and personalized healthcare; to create a cooperation model between the public sector and the healthcare industry; and to provide early access to new personalized treatments and health innovations for all Finns.
Finnish health technology is globally renowned. Finland is one of only seven countries in the world that exports more health technology than it imports. The value of Finland’s exports of health technology products rose to $2.6 billion in 2018, an increase of 3.4 percent over 2017. Imports of health technology products rose 6 percent to $1.4 billion. The biggest contributor to the trade surplus in 2017 continued to be Finland's traditionally strong medical equipment segment, which contributed nearly 90 percent of the net total. Medical equipment and supplies
Medical equipment is the largest health technology segment in Finland. In 2017, the most recent statistics, exports of medical equipment rose 4.0 percent to $1.93 billion, accounting for 71 percent of all health technology products exported from Finland. The United States is the biggest market for Finnish medical equipment, followed by Germany and Sweden. In 2017, exports of medical equipment to the United States accounted for 39.9 percent of total health technology exports. Imports of medical equipment, meanwhile, rose 4.9 percent to $789 million. Imports from the United States for the first 8 months of 2017 were $129 million, down 24.5 percent from the previous year but still representing a 17.8 percent share.
As a member of the EU, Finland’s local legislation concerning medical equipment complies with EU directives. Medical trade is duty-free within the EU. Import duties are collected from production coming from non-EU countries. The amount of duty for medical equipment exported from the United States varies by product, ranging from 5-12 percent. Medical equipment is required to have markings and instructions that ensure their safe use. Clinical investigations are used to determine the functioning and suitability for use of medical equipment, as necessary. Only medical equipment that conforms with existing regulations can be placed on the market or put into service in Finland. Product approvals are issued by the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (known as Valvira), a centralized body operating under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. High quality and technically sophisticated U.S. medical equipment has excellent market potential in Finland, especially equipment that increases efficiency and reduces occupancy rates in hospitals. The operating budgets of Finnish public hospitals have been reduced, and major hospital procurement is focused primarily on replacing older equipment. In the private healthcare sector, investments in new medical equipment are expected to continue to increase.
Best prospects for U.S. made medical equipment are in electronic medical records (EMR’s), X-ray equipment, patient monitoring systems, mini-invasive surgery, video endoscopes, digital image processing, and picture archiving.
Finnish Dental Congress and Exhibition, November 7-9, 2019 (Finland’s largest event for dentistry professionals).
The Finnish Medical Convention and Exhibition, January 8-10, 2020 (Finland’s largest medical exhibition).
Personalized Health Program Newly launched program from Business Finland to attract foreign investment to Finland.
In Finland, pharmaceutical wholesalers sell medicines mainly to pharmacies and hospitals. The largest share of wholesale sales to pharmacies is reimbursable medicines. Over the past few decades, Finnish domestic pharmaceutical production has decreased but not withered out. Finnish-based companies have been successful in developing medicines with strong global demand and medicines rank among the top ten products in export statistics. Bayer, Orion, Pfizer and Santen have large production facilities in Finland. These companies hold very strong positions in the market. Finnish companies have been able to retain pharmaceutical manufacturing in the country due to specialized competence, which includes polymers in hormonal IUDs, septic production of ocular medicines, and production of hormonal medicines. A significant share of the specialized production is exported.
Finland accounts for about 1.3 percent of European pharmaceutical sales and less than half a percent of global sales. In 2017, pharmaceutical products were listed among the top eight products in import statistics. In 2017 Finland imported $2.45 billion in pharmaceutical products, and exported $1.9 billion, primarily to EU countries (33 percent), Russia (5 percent), and Switzerland (5 percent). In 2017, Finns spent an estimated $3.3 billion on pharmaceutical products – approximately $600 per capita. The largest sellers are cancer medicines, and nervous system drugs like antidepressants.
The pharmaceutical market is closely regulated and intrinsically linked to the overall national social welfare and healthcare systems. Laws specify the way in which medicines may be marketed, adverse reactions monitored, and pharmacotherapies reimbursed. Manufacturing follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) guidelines. Compliance is monitored by the Finnish Medicines Agency (Fimea). In addition, Finland will provide unique legislation to open health and welfare registries to wider use. According to Sitra, the Finnish government’s innovation funding organization, legislative work was under way and the aim was to open a one-stop service for researchers and developers in late 2018, without the need to compromise on data security. The aim is for Finnish data on social and healthcare to be utilized more efficiently for the development of new medicines, treatments, and management.
Pharmaceutical imports to Finland exceed the country’s pharmaceutical production and exports. Three companies have productive operations in Finland. However, their production is not enough to meet the entire domestic demand. Imports from abroad guarantee national pharmaceutical services, ensuring that patients will have the necessary therapies for their diseases.
Changes in the reimbursement system affect medicines sales by pharmacies, which account for almost 70 percent of all medicines sales. The pharmacy medicine purchases are broken down to:
- 80 percent: reimbursable medicines
- about 13-14%: self-care medicines
- less than 10 percent: non-reimbursable prescription-only medicines.
Biotechnology has been a high priority sector in Finland since the mid-1980s. Currently, there are over 100 biotech companies in Finland, 75 percent of which were established in the 1990s. Many biotechnology companies in Finland are developing innovative antibody gene delivery technologies and gene vaccines for cancer immunotherapy as well as prevention and treatment of infectious diseases such as HIV. In addition, researchers have identified genes that seem to correlate with decreased plasma levels of amyloid-beta in Alzheimer’s patients. Over the past decade diagnostics have been a success story for Finland. In 2017 exports of in vitro diagnostics rose 8.3 percent overall to $674 million, while imports rose 9.7 percent to $395 million.
Finnish legislation does not contain specific regulation for biologicals and combination products. These are primarily regulated by the Medicines Act and the Medical Devices Act. Several EU directives also apply to these products. Marketing authorization for biologicals and combination products is subject to the EU's centralized marketing authorization procedure coordinated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The In Vitro Diagnostic Directive (IVDD) 98/79/EC directive facilitates the free trade of in vitro diagnostic products within the European Economic Area (EEA). The IVDD specifically addresses the safety, quality and performance of in vitro diagnostic medical equipment, to ensure that in vitro diagnostics do not compromise the health and safety of patients, users and third parties and attain the performance levels specified by the manufacturer.
Biological medicinal products are believed to be on the rise in Finland. More information at Pharma Industry Finland
There is also a strong focus in Finland on vaccines, with flourishing biotech and life science clusters in the cities of Kuopio, Turku, Tampere and Oulu. Opportunities for U.S. firms within the biotechnology field are, among others, to develop innovative antibody gene delivery technologies and gene vaccines for cancer immunotherapy as well as for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases such as HIV. These technologies have high demand in Finland, and there is also huge demand for collaboration to build novel biotechnology solutions and products through project cooperation between companies and research institutes in Finland.
The diagnostics industry is one of Finland’s key strength areas in health technology. Finland is the home for the Global R&D Centers of excellence for many leading companies in the field such as the American biotechnology company Thermo Fisher Scientific. Finnish in vitro diagnostic companies are committed to developing innovative yet affordable solutions, also through partnerships with other high technology companies and academies. There are no market barriers for U.S. in vitro diagnostic companies to export to or establish in Finland, or to partner with Finnish firms, provided they follow EU regulations. Tiina.email@example.com (local contact)
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