»Come to Germany to be a world leader«
Sebastian Gaiser, Policy advisor at Johnson & Johnson
Sebastian Gaiser | © private Sebastian Gaiser, responsible for German government affairs at the U.S. Medical and Pharmaceutical Corporation Johnson & Johnson, works at the Group’s Berlin office and maintains contact with politicians. He encourages medium-sized companies with foreign roots to actively participate.
Mr. Gaiser, to what extent is the German medical technology market special when you compare it to other markets?
In Germany, almost all citizens are covered by health insurance and do not pay for the majority of medical services themselves. If a legally-insured patient is treated, whether as an inpatient or out¬patient, the bill for the treatment ends with his health insurer. Those institutions therefore have a great influence on which treatment methods and medical products are used. It is usually difficult to get something they do not want on the market. It is therefore important to understand the interplay of health insurance companies, doctors, clinics and politics.
What does this mean for foreign medical technology companies?
They have to deal with the market at an early stage and intensively familiarize themselves with the habits. This is now more important than ever. Legislators and health insurance funds have been pushing for cost savings. You cannot cut costs by making people redundant because of public opposition. A law that has recently come into force is primarily aimed at reducing material costs. As a result of pressure from the hospitals, the profit margins for medical technology devices, which are already under pressure, are likely to continue to fall. This can have an impact on the innovative power of our industry.
That doesn’t sound particularly appealing, does it?
Let’s say the framework is not getting easier. But Germany has been and still is an important market because of its size and the available know-how. The plethora of high-caliber physicians, research institutes and companies offers foreign firms many opportunities to develop innovations in partnership. This is yet another feature of the German market: partnerships and alliances are more important here than in other markets. The collaboration between research and industry is especially close in the many medical technology clusters. Anyone who wants to be a world leader in medical technology must be represented here in Germany. But you have to learn to play according to the rules.
Many foreign medical technology companies start with a small team in Germany. How can they contribute to political processes?
Small and medium-sized companies are often important innovators for our industry and it makes sense for every firm in our industry to make themselves heard and take an active part in the political process. Companies can contact local politicians, for example, and inform them about what they are doing. Many politicians here are willing to acquire more detailed knowledge about medical procedures and medical technology. In addition, they have an open ear for the establishment of innovative companies. In the current situation with new laws and EU regulations, the opportunity is favorable to active participants.