Approximately 4 billion women inhabit the world, yet women’s health has consistently faced neglect and underrepresentation across various domains, including research, innovation, clinical trials, funding, and product development.
Between 1977 and 1993, none of the medications introduced to the US market underwent testing on women. Shockingly, only 6 percent of obstetrician-gynaecologists received training in supporting menopause during medical school.
This oversight has resulted in inadequate research and understanding of conditions that exclusively, differentially, or disproportionately impact women, leading to preventable deaths. A study by the Lancet Global Health Journal revealed that 24,000 women lose their lives annually in the UK due to preventable cancers.
Despite the enormity of the issue, women’s health presents a trillion-dollar market potential if addressed comprehensively. While femtech investments have gained attention, broader investments in women’s healthcare have stagnated, representing a significant missed opportunity.
Women’s healthcare encompasses more than just femtech; it extends to precision medicine. The sector is gaining interest from academics, scientists, innovators, and corporations. Shockingly, only 4 percent of healthcare research and development funding is allocated to women’s health, with 65 percent of that focused solely on fertility. This leaves behind crucial innovations related to women’s healthcare, such as cervical and ovarian cancer, and women’s sports.
Additionally, women constitute two-thirds of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, and over three-quarters of those diagnosed with autoimmune diseases. Addressing these diseases from a women’s perspective can have broader benefits for everyone.
Scaling innovations in women’s health requires capital, and there exists a significant funding gap for women’s healthcare businesses between initial seed investment and Series A. Despite 112 businesses at this growth stage achieving an average exit of $301 million (£239 million), securing funding remains a challenge.
To unlock investment, it’s crucial to change the perception of women’s healthcare as not just a philanthropic endeavor but one of the most profitable sectors to invest in. Investors need to recognize the financial potential, understanding that these businesses involve clinical trials and data gathering for regulators, requiring patient capital for a slightly longer early-stage path.