How does Facebook compare to healthcare?

Facebook has been in the news more than normal lately with the launch of its IPO last week. Interestingly, Forbes and others are writing about how Facebook compares with healthcare. Here is what Forbes has to say and what we think.

First, Matthew Herper writes about, “Four ways to make medicine more like Facebook.” What I took away from the piece, was not so much the four ways he proposes, but rather some of these staggering statistics:

  • The stock market values Facebook as being worth nearly as much as Merck (annual sales: $48 billion) more than Sanofi (annual sales: $42 billion) and twice as much as Gilead, the leading maker of HIV medicines, or Medtronic, the medical device giant.
  • Seven big Facebook shareholders, hold shares totaling $25 billion. By comparison, all the 12 health care billionaires on last year’s issue of the Forbes 400 Richest People in America had a combined net worth of $28 billion.
  • A single tech company, launched in 2004, is worth more than most makers of medicine. More than that, this single company has done as much to create very rich people as, basically, the entire medical device and drug industry.

Second, Eamonn Fingleton tells us to, “Forget the Facebook generation – There’s a bigger investing opportunity with boomers.” Can you guess what this “great” investing opportunity might be? Companies who make CPAP devices (CPAP = Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). CPAP is commonly used to treat sleep apnea, or interruptions in breathing during sleep. It can make a big difference for people (sleep apnea should not be left untreated), but the use of CPAP typically involves wearing a mask of some sort while sleeping.

So, why is the sleep apnea market growing so much you might ask? Well, because we’re getting fatter. If you are tired or sleepy and happen to be a male who is overweight, has a large neck, or snores, you should consider being screened for sleep apnea.

In any case, what do we think about these comparisons? We like Mr. Herper’s first recommendation that perhaps we should not rely so much on drugs for health. We’re not so certain that the solution is pricier diagnostics though. Nonetheless, we like the idea of restoring and maintaining health through sound diet, movement, and sleep, whenever possible.

As for Mr. Fingleton, we will be curious to see if his stock predictions pan out, but as an alternative “investment,” we would suggest finding opportunities that allow you to invest in your health and in your community in addition to any financial return that you might receive. For example, there are Kickstarter projects that might align with your food goals and increase the likelihood that you can easily find and procure foods that will help you be an Intelligent Eater. For example, this project to open a gluten-free kitchen in San Francisco was just funded after raising $30,000! On another project, there are 10 days left to contribute to the establishment of a Paleo/Primal food truck in San Diego (act now!). These might not represent your typical investments per se, but you might gain more from having these resources in your community than you would from gambling on the stock market.