Press Gazette lists the biggest websites in pharma as we rank B2B sites covering the pharmaceutical and medical device industries by overall traffic. Both are major areas within healthcare. In 2020, worldwide pharma revenues totalled some $1.27 trillion (IQVIA), while the medical devices market was worth $310 billion (MarketWatch).
This is the first in series of data-led features taking a closer look at leading specialist business publishing areas.
Top B2B medical devices websites
When it comes to the leading medical devices sites, GlobalData’s Medical Device Nework (part of the Verdict Media group of sites) overtook the site of the Journal of Medical Devices (asmedigitalcollection.asme.org) to become the most read site in the field currently. Medicaldevice-network.com racked up 502,456 visits worldwide in July – some 15% more than the 436,714 visits to asmedigitalcollection.asme.org. Third was MedGadget which counted 355,154 visits.
(GlobalData’s majority shareholder Mike Danson is also the proprietor of Press Gazette parent company New Statesman Media Group.)
In the US, asmedigitalcollection.asme.org led for traffic in July (91,224 visits). It was followed by US-based massdevice.com (64,685), and independent medgadget.com (61,236) which is run by doctors and biomedical engineers.
In the UK, medicaldevice-network.com is the clear market leader. The site had 124,737 visits in July - almost six times more than the next most popular site mddionline.com (21,382 visits) and third most popular site medgadget.com (19.842 visits). On the whole, fewer medical device sites reached the threshold for 5,000 monthly visits which is the minimum for a site to be included in the company's analytics.
As in the pharma sector, Covid's impact on the dominant themes of interest in the sector has been vast.
"Covid-19 has been a huge moment for diagnostics with rapid testing requirements and the scale of testing that's been required," says Verdict healthcare editor Chris Lo, who adds that testing is nonetheless a key evergreen topic for the industry. "Testing in all kinds of infectious diseases, testing around early cancer detection, diagnostics for early-stage Alzheimer's or dementia, all of these things, even where something doesn't exist, there's an incredible amount of research going on to solve some of these issues."
But while the pandemic has inevitably raised the profile of specialist writing in health, its eventual end throws up interesting challenges for those reporting on the sector.
"In terms of traffic, from one perspective there’s been an opportunity to gain visibility amongst a much broader swath of online readership," says Lo. "But a challenge editorially is how do we sort through those readers who are only going to stick around for Covid-19 information and those who are here to stay?
"And what happens next editorially for us after Covid? How do we convert that momentum into other topics that we're covering?"
Life science news portal Biospace has the most traffic of any business to business (B2B) publication in the pharmaceutical sector, according to Press Gazette’s ranking.
Data provided by web analytics firm Similarweb shows that the site is the most-read publication both globally and in the US, based on number of visits.
Globally, there were 1.5 million visits in July to biopspace.com. It was followed in second place by US-based fiercepharma.com (1.1 million visits) and in third place by Verdict Media’s pharmaceutical-technology.com (873,717 visits). Pharmacytimes.com, the website of industry journal Pharmacy Times’ came in at fourth (862,339 visits).
Biospace.com was also the leading site in the US, having racked up 667,268 visits from the country in July. Fiercepharma.com and Pharmacytimes.com also did well in the US market counting 518,751 and 545,737 visits during the month respectively.
In the UK, home-grown site pharmaceutical-technology.com (owned by GlobalData) was the top destination for visits (85,222 visits) although biospace.com was a close competitor (77,799 visits). Third-place fiercepharma.com racked up 60,547 visits during the month.
Pharmaceutical Technology's site, which focuses specifically on stories relevant to pharmaceutical professionals working with technology, saw a particularly impressive boost in its global and UK traffic with the start of the pandemic. Site analytics revealed that many views were from new users suggesting general audiences were looking for specialist and trusted information on the evolving situation.
"We have seen a huge amount of general interest traffic that's coming through organic search onto our sites particularly for some of the more fundamental explainer pieces whether it's vaccine side-effects or the different types of Covid-19 testing technologies," explains Verdict Media's Lo. "With these things becoming a part of everyone's everyday lives, we're increasingly seeing people looking to sites like ours as a source of credible and trustworthy information at a time when there's an awful lot of not necessarily particularly trustworthy information."
This heightened interest in pharma right now says Lo represents both an opportunity and challenge for those working in and writing about the sector.
"It's a time when the average person on the street knows a lot more about clinical trials and about what the pharma industry does and how it works," says Lo.
"It's an opportunity for the pharma industry to bolster its slightly shaky reputation in many different parts of the world. But it's also presenting challenges...a lot of the anti-vaccine movement for example is grounded in the historical distrust of the pharma industry in many communities."
For a sector so central to fighting the pandemic, Covid-19 has of course also been the dominant story for specialist readers since last March. The virus has dominated the conversation on many traditional topics of interest for the sector such as clinical trials where social distancing is encouraging the use of technology to allow patients to be monitored remotely.
"In the last year and a half or so Covid-19 has been an overwhelming focus and it’s something that spills out into a lot of the other topics we've been covering," says Lo.
And although case numbers might be tailing off in some wealthy countries, the pandemic, says Lo, will continue to shape content for some time to come.
"Our readership is still incredibly interested in new topics coming out around Covid-19. It's just evolving a little bit," he says. "On the device side for instance, 18 months ago, we were looking at ventilator shortages and emergencies over PPE. Now, we're looking into things like the tail end of testing strategies, track and trace, antibody testing and population management to track where the virus is heading next and where hotspots are going to be".
Lo adds: "It’s the same in pharma. We're now looking at what are the next generation of vaccines that are coming out after the first batch and what's happening with booster shots.
"There doesn’t ever seem to be any shortage of new topics that Covid-19 is inspiring."
But while conversations and analysis inspired by the pandemic are likely to persist for some time, it’s not the only area of interest for those reading and writing about the sector. Interest is growing for instance in artificial intelligence (AI) which, by helping scientists trawl through enormous volumes of data, promises to increase the efficiency of how drug companies pick potential targets for research.
"We're in the early phases of this but in pharma and medical devices we're asking how AI and machine learning can optimise processes," says Lo.