Finland - Country Commercial Guide
Healthcare

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-09-14

Overview

In 2019, healthcare expenditures in Finland amounted to 9.2 percent of GDP ($25.12 billion. The biggest growth was in outpatient care medicine +10.1 percent, primary care +4.5 percent and in long-term and homecare for elderly and disabled +4.2 percent. Universal health insurance coverage is accessible for all citizens and permanent residents in the country, with a range of comprehensive health services delivered primarily by publicly owned and operated providers. In 2019, approximately 76.8 percent of services and programs within the system were funded through public expenditure. Private financing accounted for 23.2 percent. The majority of Finnish hospitals are public. Private hospitals provide approximately five percent of hospital care in Finland. Private healthcare, excluding occupational services to prevent work-related illnesses and accidents, accounts for about six percent of total healthcare expenditure.

Finland boasts a rapidly growing ecosystem for health startups. International investors have taken notice of the potential of Finnish startups. In 2019 Finnish startups received a record amount $583 Million (up from $218 Million in 2018) of venture capital funding from domestic and foreign investors. The United States leads the way in both individual investments made and on investments in to Finland.  Healthcare and MedTech were the third biggest group receiving funding. Read more in the Venture Capital Association Finland report 2020.

Finland is the most advanced digital economy in the EU according to DESI 2020 – The Digital Economy and Societal Index - and this also extends to healthcare. 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 Finnish health data unique in terms of breadth and depth. The healthcare system has also accumulated blood and tissue samples in biobanks for many years. From the research point of view, the Finnish legislation on biobank operations is highly progressive, 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. 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. In March 2019 the Finnish Parliament accepted the Act on the Secondary Use of Health and Social Data, which will facilitate easier and more efficient use of valuable material for research and development activities, for both domestic and foreign companies.

Finnish health technology is globally renowned. Finland is one of the few countries in the world that exports more health technology than it imports. The United States was the most important destination for export in 2019 getting 38.5 percent of the total value. The value of Finland’s exports of health technology products rose to $2.74 billion in 2019, an increase of 5.7 percent over 2019. Imports of health technology products rose 4 percent to $1.48 billion.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Medical equipment and supplies

Medical equipment is the largest health technology segment in Finland. In 2019 exports of medical equipment rose 5.1 percent to $1.9 billion, accounting for 70 percent of all health technology products exported from Finland. T Imports of medical equipment, meanwhile, rose from $789 million to $793 million in 2019. 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, previously issued by Valvira, have since January 2020 been issued by the Finnish Medicines Agency (known as FIMEA), a centralized body operating under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Pharmaceutical products

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. Finland has 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.

Finland accounts for about 1.3 percent of European pharmaceutical sales and less than half a percent of global sales.  In 2019 Finland imported $2.26 billion in pharmaceutical products, and exported $760 million,  In 2019, Finns spent an estimated $3.95 billion on pharmaceutical products, which represents a 5 percent increase from the preceding year.  The largest sellers are cancer medicines, and nervous system drugs like antidepressants. A significant share of the specialized production is exported. In the first half of 2019 (Jan-July) import of pharmaceutical products from the United States rose by 24 percent to $109 million.

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).

Biotechnology products

Biotechnology has been a high priority sector in Finland since the mid-1980s. Currently, there are over 100 biotechnology 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 2019 exports of in vitro diagnostics rose 10 percent overall to $749 million, while imports rose 3.2.percent to $430 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.

Opportunities

Medical equipment and supplies:

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, orthopedic equipment and picture archiving.

Business Events:

Finland’s largest event for dentistry professionals is the Finnish Dental Convention and Exhibition, which will be held as a virtual event November 11-13, 2021. Finland’s largest medical exhibition The Finnish Medical Convention and Exhibition  is scheduled to be held January 26-28, 2022. Digital Health Nordic 2022, scheduled for February 10, 2022, will provide a look at the role of technology in advancing modern medicine, healthcare and wellness.

Pharmaceuticals:

Pharmaceutical imports to Finland exceed the country’s pharmaceutical production and exports. Four companies have production 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 medicine 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 percent: self-care medicines

•               less than 10 percent: non-reimbursable prescription-only medicines.

Hospitals accounted for about 31 percent of the total sales of pharmaceuticals in 2019. Retail trade and other sales are only about 2 percent, prescription drugs 59 percent and over the counter 8 percent of the total sales of medicines.

Biotechnology products:

Biological medicinal products are on the rise in 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. In particular, innovative antibody gene delivery technologies and gene vaccines for cancer immunotherapy as well as for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases are being developed here. 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.

Opportunities for U.S. companies include exporting their goods and services to Finland, as well as engaging in pilot and  health testbed projects to validate new innovations for use worldwide.

Resources

  • Business Finland-Health Test beds
  • Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
  • Finnish Medicines Agency
  • FinnGen Research Project
  • Pharma Industry Finland

Information

Interested parties may contact Commercial Specialist Tiina Ketelä-Juvonen, tiina.ketela@trade.gov