When women's health becomes a business like any other

When women’s health becomes a business like any other

From the digital application for monitoring the menstrual cycle to the yoga of hormones, women’s health, long neglected, is a booming ecosystem, against a backdrop of the take-off of “femtechs”. But also a catch-all market, to the point of becoming a business like any other.

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It’s a recent report by the consulting firm McKinsey which affirms it: if women’s health has long been considered a “niche market” (although it concerns half of humanity), things are starting to change. , with the key, also, “new opportunities” for investors.

The start-ups specializing in this field, born with the rise of new technologies, even have a name: “femtech”, a contraction of “female” and “technology”. This market would represent 50 billion dollars in 2024according to Frost & Sullivan.

But at the confluence of health, a very supervised sector, and well-being, with much more vague rules: special menopause clothing, fertility herbal teas, food supplementsthe field of possibilities is immense and does not respond to identical rules.

Lack of validity

This is one of the problems posed by the growing interest of companies in the subject of women’s health: lack of scientific validation. Thus, a medical device must meet strict standards.

Founder of the start-up Fizimed, which has developed a perineal rehabilitation probe, Emeline Hahn had her product validated via a clinical trial.

This is not the case for all its competitors, she regrets: “Doing a clinical trial makes it possible to prove the interest of the device and to get out of the “gadget” box. But this represents large investments, which is also why not everyone does it. » “We often talk about the CE marking, which indicates that a particular product corresponds to the safety standards in force. But it is not a clinical trial, which proves its effectiveness. This can be misleading for consumers”says the entrepreneur.

Another point of attention, specific to online apps: the question of confidentiality. Because if the European GDPR regulation indeed protects the use of health data, there is “a vagueness in which service providers are engulfed” who will sometimes prefer to speak of “well-being” data, underlines Lydia Morlet-Haïdara, director of the Law and Health Institute of the University of Paris, a digital specialist.

In addition, “When you download an app, you accept the general terms and conditions of use and give your consent: after that, everything depends on what you authorize”, warns Ms. Morlet-Haïdara. The importance of reading these famous “T&Cs” in detail.

Historical female under-representation in clinical trials

However, the development of these offers comes as a more or less serious response to problems that have been left unsolved for too long. Because women have often been considered as patients with more or less valid recriminations by traditionally male physicians. Many studies have analyzed the issue, pointing in particular to the historical under-representation of women in clinical trials.

For Doctor Thomas Borel, director of scientific affairs for the federation of pharmaceutical companies (Leem), if there is no difference today in the desire to include men and women in clinical trials , it exists “however, a certain deficit in the analysis according to gender”.

A phenomenon that is not without consequences
: the McKinsey report notes that women have “twice as likely as men to experience adverse effects after taking medication”. Excluding oncology, approximately 1% of healthcare research and innovation spending is devoted to diseases specific to women, McKinsey continues.

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