Healthcare has dominated the global news cycle since the COVID-19 pandemic began nearly three years ago.

2022 was unique in the fact that while COVID was still top of mind, several other healthcare-related events happened that grabbed the attention of leaders and the general public.

Below are MM+M’s top five healthcare moments of 2022. 

1. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

The high court’s 6-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, ended nearly 50 years of constitutional protections to abortion access in the U.S. and sent shockwaves through the healthcare industry. 

The repercussions from the decision continue to be felt, both in the healthcare consumer marketplace and at the ballot box.

In October, research from Mindshare and GroupM found that the overturning of Roe eroded consumer trust in brands while also placing the media under greater scrutiny around the topic of abortion.

Meanwhile, a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that the Dobbs decision boosted the performance of Democratic candidates in key races during the midterm elections.

2. Lecanemab shows promise treating Alzheimer’s

Emerging from the long, controversial shadow of the Aduhelm saga, Biogen reported in late September that its Alzheimer’s drug Lecanemab delivered promising results.

The drug, which was developed with Eisai, met its primary endpoint in showing a “statistically significant” reduction in clinical decline among patients with early Alzheimer’s. 

Now, focus has shifted to the drug’s safety profile and questions around its potential coverage by commercial payers as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

3. President Biden declares “the pandemic is over”

The COVID-19 pandemic evolved throughout 2022, with the introduction of new variants along with mixed public health responses from companies and governments across the country. 

Given how much progress has been made in terms of ensuring people are vaccinated and that deaths are divorced from cases, some have deemed the emergency phase of the outbreak over.

To that end, President Biden told 60 Minutes in September that “the pandemic is over,” prompting strong pushback from medical marketers who saw the announcement as premature in nature.

“With millions of Americans living with underlying health conditions that still put them at risk for hospitalization with a positive COVID infection, it is critical that we stay several steps ahead from a messaging standpoint and continue to educate the public about the continued importance of protection through vaccination and the goals and appropriate candidates for treatment, should they test positive for COVID-19,” said Elyse Margolis, president of Real Chemistry

4. Amgen buys Horizon Therapeutics for $28.5 billion

M&A activity in the pharma and life sciences sector was fairly robust in 2022 and is expected to continue that way in 2023 despite broader economic headwinds.

Riding the consolidation wave, Amgen won the Horizon Therapeutics sweepstakes late in the year, scooping up the Irish biotech for $28.5 billion. Amgen beat out the likes of Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi for the rare-disease biotech, which enjoys one of the strongest brand reputations in the industry.

Amgen CEO Robert A. Bradway said the Horizon acquisition would drive Amgen’s revenue and is expected to be accretive from 2024. 

5. Monkeypox outbreak challenges global public health infrastructure 

Many healthcare leaders looked at the outbreak of monkeypox, now known as Mpox, as the first major challenge to a post-COVID global public health infrastructure. 

There were thousands of cases reported in Europe and the U.S. since the outbreak began in May, prompting the World Health Organization as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to deem it a global health emergency. 

While there were similarities between the start of the Mpox outbreak and the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and the COVID-19 pandemic, cases have since dropped off precipitously. As a result, the U.S. is slated to end the Mpox public health emergency in January.