2011 Review and Outlook for Biotechnology in 2012

In 2008, the Dow Jones Industrial average recorded its worst annual performance since 1931 and the NASDAQ Composite had its worst year since inception in 1971.

On the heels of such a miserable year, it may have seemed counterintuitive to provide a positive outlook for the speculative biotechnology industry in 2009, but that’s exactly what we did.  Our bullish thesis was reiterated for both 2010 and 2011.

The AMEX Biotechnology Index (BTK) ended 2008 at 647.17 and climbed to 1,091.42 by the end of 2011 for a gain of approximately 69% during this three-year period.  Comparing this performance with the general market, the NASDAQ Composite increased 65% from 1,577.03 to 2,605.15 during the same period.

Our favorable outlook for the biotechnology industry remains intact for 2012 and is based on the following key drivers, which build upon many of the catalysts we first proposed in 2009:

  • Sector’s defensive characteristics and impact on future economic growth
  • Improving number of annual new product approvals since the low set in 2007
  • Record number of products in clinical trials and annual industry R&D investment
  • Improving access to capital
  • Brisk pace of industry consolidation and licensing transactions
  • Many micro, small and mid-capitalization companies remain undervalued

Defensive Sector and Economic Driver

During periods of economic uncertainty, the biotechnology sector is often portrayed as defensive given that disease is relentless in both good economic times and bad.  Despite recent medical advances, there remains a need for quality, innovative products to diagnose and treat a broad variety of diseases such as cancer, central nervous system disorders, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory and infectious diseases.

Beyond its defensive characteristics, the sector plays a critical role in the United States [US] economy.  Innovative new medicines developed by life science companies provide better patient outcomes, improved quality of care, increased life expectancy, and lead to economic gains and job creation.

While the strengths and weaknesses of the US healthcare system remain the subject of great debate, we believe new medicines should be viewed as investments in the future, not only in patient health – but also in economic recovery and growth.  For example, as indicated in our article “Innovative New Medicines are Key to Economic Growth,” a permanent 1% reduction in mortality from cancer alone has a present value to current and future generations of Americans of nearly $500 billion and a cure would be worth about $50 trillion.

New Drug Approvals

As we highlighted in recent years, legislation passed in 2008 gave the FDA more money and resources, but hiring and training hundreds of new employees takes time.  With that process well underway, combined with increased familiarity of the risk evaluation and mitigation strategies [REMS] program, we expected the drug approval process to gradually improve.

Encouragingly, the total number of approvals for new molecular entities and biologic license applications by the US Food and Drug Administration’s [FDA] Center for Drug Evaluation and Research [CDER] in fiscal year 2011 was 35.  This is an improvement from 21 approvals in 2010 and 25 approvals in 2009.  In fact, according to a press announcement by the FDA, this is among the highest number of approvals in the past decade, surpassed only by 37 approvals in 2009.

However, an article in Nature Reviews by Asher Mullard listing the annual number of drug approvals going back to 1996 shows that 36 approvals in 2004 [not 2009] was the record for the past decade.  The same article also shows that new drug approvals peaked at a high of 56 in 1996.

Notable new drug approvals in 2011 include Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) Zytiga® [abiraterone] for late-stage prostate cancer, Roche’s Zelboraf® [vemurafenib] and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMY) Yervoy™ [ipilimumab] both for melanoma, Human Genome Sciences’ (HGSI) Benlysta® [belimumab] – the first new drug for lupus in 50 years, and Seattle Genetics’ Adcetris™ [brentuximab vedotin] for a rare lymphoma known as systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma [ALCL].

Record Pipeline and Investment

According to the latest report by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America [PhRMA], there are a record number of biotechnology product candidates currently in development.  In the US alone, there are more than 900 biotechnology products in development, including 300 monoclonal antibodies, 298 vaccines, 78 recombinant proteins, 50 gene therapy products, 64 cell therapy products, and 23 antisense products.  More than one-third of these product candidates are targeting cancer and related conditions and more than 20% are targeting infectious diseases.

Annual research and development expenditures by PhRMA member companies for 2009 was an estimated $45.8 billion, more than tripling the $15.2 billion level of investment in 1995.  However, skeptics will point to the fact that despite growing R&D expenditures, the number of new drug approvals has declined since the mid-1990s [see chart below].

Access to Capital

During the second week of January, more than 8,000 registrants gathered in San Francisco, California for the 30th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference [JPMHC] to hear 25-minute presentations from 395 life science companies.  For industry executives and investors, the annual event typically serves as a good barometer for the rest of the year.

Between meetings, we roamed the familiar halls of the Westin St. Francis Hotel to assess the mood among participants and also monitored social media outlets throughout the event.  In general, the plane flights and networking receptions were crowded as usual, industry observers “Tweeted” a sense of optimism, and attendees appeared more upbeat than in 2011.

The recent closing of three new funds may support increased optimism as it relates to access to capital.  First, on January 3, 2012, Vivo Ventures announced the final closing of a $375 million fund targeting later development stage pharmaceutical and medical device companies in the US and in revenue stage healthcare companies in greater China.  Second, during the JPMHC Canaan Partners announced the closing of a $600 million fund, with one-third of the fund designated to healthcare investments in biopharmaceutical, medical device and healthcare infrastructure companies.  Also during the JPMHC, Flagship Ventures announced the closing of a $270 million life sciences fund, its largest fund to date.   According to Flagship’s press release, in addition to investing in early-stage companies, a portion of the new fund will be dedicated to “later-stage value investing opportunities resulting from the current capital-constrained environment.”  Finally, Luke Timmerman of Xconomy recently reported that Frazier Healthcare is also aiming for its first biotechnology fund since 2007.

Last year wasn’t too bad either.  In 2011, venture capitalists invested $28.4 billion in 3,673 deals, an increase of 22% in dollars and a 4% rise in deals over the prior year, according to the MoneyTree™ Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association [NVCA], based on data from Thomson Reuters.  In fact, venture capital investing in 2011 ranks in the top three years for venture capital investing in the past decade.  Biotechnology was the second largest investment sector, with $4.7 billion going into 446 deals.  This represents a 22% increase in investment dollars, but a 9% drop in terms of the number of deals.

2012 is also off to a solid start with regard to follow-on financings.  Synageva (GEVA), Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA), iBio (IBIO), Talon Therapeutics (TLON), ImmunoCelluar Therapeutics (IMUC), Vical (VICL), Synta Pharmaceuticals (SNTA), Chelsea Therapeutics (CHTP), Sequenom (SQNM), ZIOPHARM Oncology (ZIOP), Neurocrine Biosciences (NBIX), and NeuroMetrix (NURO) have each announced offerings since the start of the year.

Consolidation and Licensing

Adding to the optimism among industry executives and investors during the JPMHC, Bristol-Myers Squibb announced its $2.5 billion acquisition of Inhibitex, Inc. (INHX) on January 7, 2012.  In view of the fact that US pharmaceutical companies stand to lose billions of revenue due to patent expirations from 2010 to 2012, we expect merger and acquisition [M&A] activity to remain brisk.

In other M&A news, ISTA Pharmaceuticals (ISTA) is still being pursued by Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX), which recently increased its previously proposed price to acquire ISTA from $6.50 to $7.50 per share in cash. Valeant also communicated to ISTA that it could achieve a price of up to $8.50 per share following confirmatory due diligence.

Licensing deal activity is also off to a strong start in 2012, as evidence by Xenon Pharmaceuticals’ strategic alliance with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group (RHHBY), to discover and develop compounds and companion diagnostics for the potential treatment of pain.

According to the deal, which was announced during JPMHC, Xenon is eligible to receive research, development and commercialization milestone payments, totaling up to $646 million for multiple products and indications.  In addition, Xenon will receive royalties on sales of products resulting from the collaboration.

In other licensing news, BioDelivery Sciences (BDSI) recently signed a worldwide license and development agreement with Endo Pharmaceuticals (ENDP) for the exclusive rights to develop and commercialize BEMA Buprenorphine for the treatment of chronic pain.

Small Versus Large

Similar to recent years, we expect that small and mid-capitalization companies with late-stage programs and/or positive fundamental catalysts will continue to outperform their larger industry peers in 2012.

For example, after being the third worst performer in the prior year, Medivation (MDVN) became the largest percentage gainer within the NASDAQ Biotech Index during 2011 based on encouraging results with MDV3100, the company’s lead product candidate in Phase 3 development for the treatment of castration-resistant prostate cancer.

In another dramatic reversal of fortune, after declining 22% in 2009 shares of Akorn, Inc. (AKRX), a niche generic pharmaceutical company, made an impressive comeback by becoming the largest percentage gainer within the NASDAQ Biotech Index during 2010 and again making the list of top ten gainers in 2011 [see Table 1].

However, the prior year’s winners may not always stay hot.  Both Human Genome Sciences (HGSI) and Dendreon Corporation (DNDN) were among the top ten gainers from the NASDAQ Biotech Index in 2009 with dizzying returns of 1,342% and 474%, respectively.  In 2011, both names appear on the list of top ten decliners [see Table 2].

Table 1. Top ten gainers from NASDAQ Biotech Index (NBI) in 2011

Ticker Company 2010 Close 2011 Close % Change
MDVN Medivation, Inc.

$15.17

$46.11

203.96%

QCOR Questcor Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

$14.73

$41.58

182.28%

ARIA ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

$5.10

$12.25

140.20%

CRIS Curis, Inc.

$1.98

$4.68

136.36%

ONTY Oncothyreon, Inc .

$3.26

$7.58

132.52%

VICL Vical Incorporated

$2.02

$4.41

118.32%

SPPI Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

$6.87

$14.63

112.95%

CBST Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

$21.40

$39.62

85.14%

ACHN Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

$4.15

$7.62

83.61%

AKRX Akorn, Inc.

$6.07

$11.12

83.20%

 

Table 2. Top ten decliners from NASDAQ Biotech Index (NBI) in 2011

Ticker Company 2010 Close 2011 Close % Change
PACB Pacific Biosciences of Californ

$15.91

$2.80

-82.40%

SIGA SIGA Technologies Inc.

$14.00

$2.52

-82.00%

SVNT Savient Pharmaceuticals Inc

$11.14

$2.23

-79.98%

TRGT Targacept, Inc.

$26.50

$5.57

-78.98%

DNDN Dendreon Corporation

$34.92

$7.60

-78.24%

GERN Geron Corporation

$5.19

$1.48

-71.48%

BPAX BioSante Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

$1.64

$0.50

-69.51%

HGSI Human Genome Sciences, Inc.

$23.89

$7.39

-69.07%

MNKD MannKind Corporation

$8.06

$2.50

-68.98%

DRRX Durect Corporation

$3.45

$1.18

-65.80%

 

2012 Outlook

The drivers supporting our favorable outlook for the biotechnology industry remain intact for 2012, such as the record number of products in clinical trials and annual industry R&D investment, improving access to capital, brisk pace of industry consolidation and licensing transactions, and attractive valuations among many small- and mid-capitalization companies, which should continue to outperform their larger industry peers.  In particular, 2012 represents a period with particularly robust news flow for emerging immuno-oncology companies, as indicated in our article “2012 Preview: Cancer Immunotherapy Catalysts.”

 

Biotech Deal Activity a Mixed Bag During Major Conference

Last week, thousands of registrants gathered in San Francisco, California for the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference [JPMHC] to hear 25-minute presentations from 364 life science companies.  For industry executives and investors, deal activity emanating from the annual event typically serves as a good barometer for the rest of the year.

Adding to an already hectic schedule of one-on-one meetings during the week, the success of JPMHC has spawned numerous satellite events, such as Biotech Showcase, OneMedForum, New Paradigms Conference, and China Forum.  The latter event provides further evidence that China is emerging as an important component of the international biotechnology landscape, as 16 China-based life science companies also presented during an inaugural China Track at JPMHC.

In between offsite meetings, we roamed the familiar halls of the Westin St. Francis Hotel to assess the mood among participants and also monitored online media commentaries throughout the event.  In general, the plane flights and networking receptions were crowded as usual, industry observers “Tweeted” a sense of optimism, and attendees appeared more upbeat than in 2010.  However, we once again sought to construct a less subjective assessment by analyzing year-over-year statistics from the conference.

Accordingly, we extensively reviewed press releases issued by biotechnology companies during JPMHC from 2009 to 2011, with a particular focus on identifying the number of merger & acquisitions [M&A], licensing & partnering transactions, and financing deals announced each year during the four-day event.

Merger and Acquisitions

 

Back in 2009, several large M&A transactions were announced during JPMHC.  That year, four M&A transactions with an aggregate value of $702 million were disclosed during the first two days of the event.  The largest deal went to Cephalon, Inc. (CEPH), which announced a $100 million option agreement providing the company with an opportunity to purchase all outstanding capital stock of Ception Therapeutics, Inc., a privately held biopharmaceutical company, for an additional $250 million.

Despite ongoing discussions between Sanofi-aventis (SNY) and Genzyme Corporation (GENZ), only one significant M&A transaction was announced during JPMHC in 2011, marking the second year in a row with a paucity of deals.  Finland-based Biotie Therapies Corp., a drug developer focused on central nervous system [CNS] and inflammatory diseases, announced that it is acquiring Synosia Therapeutics Holding AG in an all-share deal that values the private Swiss company at approximately $125 million.  Synosia Therapeutics Holding AG is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing a portfolio of CNS product candidates licensed from Roche Holding AG (RHHBY.PK), Novartis AG (NVS), and Syngenta AG (SYT).

Table 1. Select M&A Transactions Announced During JPMHC from 2009-2011 ($ in millions)

2009 2010 2011
# transactions 4 0 1
$ transactions $702 $0 $125

Licensing and Partnering

In 2009, ten strategic licensing and/or partnering transactions with an aggregate value exceeding $2.4 billion were announced during JPMHC. The transactions included a $1.1 billion deal between ZymoGenetics, Inc. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY), a $500 million deal between Peptimmune, Inc. and Novartis AG (NVS), a $396 million deal between Micromet, Inc. (MITI) and Bayer AG (BAYZF.PK), and a $200 million deal between FORMA Therapeutics the Novartis Option Fund to develop inhibitors for an undisclosed protein-protein interaction target in the field of oncology, among others. Interesting to note, Bristol-Myers Squibb later acquired ZymoGenetics Inc. for $885 million in cash during September 2010.

In 2010, there were only six transactions totaling $314 million announced at JPMHC, driven primarily by a $290 million agreement between privately held KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, and Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of the Sanofi-aventis, for the development and commercialization of KB001, an investigational new biologic for the treatment or prevention of Pseudomonas aeruginosa [Pa] infections.

In 2011, three major licensing and/or partnering transactions totaling more than $3 billion were announced during JPMHC, although three-quarters of the total value came from a single agreement:

  • Eli Lilly and Company (LLY) and Boehringer Ingelheim announced a $2.4 billion global agreement to jointly develop and commercialize a pipeline of oral diabetes agents and basal insulin analogues.  The alliance also includes the option to co-develop and co-commercialize Eli Lilly’s anti-TGF-beta monoclonal antibody.
  • Privately held Epizyme, Inc. announced a strategic alliance with GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) that could be worth over $650 million.  Epizyme is involved in the discovery and development of small molecule histone methyltransferase inhibitors, a new class of targeted therapeutics for the treatment of genetically-defined cancer patients, based on breakthroughs in the field of epigenetics.  Epigenetics refers to the regulation of genes with mechanisms other than changes to the underlying DNA sequence and such processes are widely believed to play a central role in the development and progression of almost all cancers.
  • Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited and Zinfandel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced an exclusive, worldwide licensing agreement regarding Zinfandel’s TOMM40 assay as a biomarker for the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, including potential use of the assay in combination with pioglitazone in high-risk older adults with normal cognition.  Pioglitazone is the active ingredient currently marketed in Takeda’s ACTOS® (pioglitazone HCl). Under the terms of agreement, Zinfandel will receive an upfront payment of $9 million and subsequent payments of up to $78 million for development milestones from Takeda.

Table 2. Select Licensing and Partnering Deals Announced During JPMHC from 2009-2011 ($ in millions)

2009 2010 2011
# transactions 10 6 3
$ transactions $2,400 $314 $3,137

Financing

While the quantity of public and private financing transactions announced during JPMHC has remained essentially flat from 2009-2011, the aggregate dollar value increased more than 60% in 2011.  Note that we excluded the $500 million convertible senior note transaction announced by Dendreon Corporation (DNDN), as it occurred after the market closed last Thursday [the last day of JPMHC].

Table 3. Select Financing Transactions Announced During JPMHC from 2009-2011 ($ in millions)

2009 2010 2011
Company Amount Company Amount Company Amount
Acclarent, Inc. (private) $26.00 Cell Therapeutics, Inc. (CTIC) $30.00 NextWave Pharmaceuticals (private) $45.00
Akorn, Inc. (AKRX) $25.00 VentiRx Pharma (private) $25.00 Cell Therapeutics (CTIC) $25.00
Singulex, Inc. (private) $19.00 BIND Biosciences, Inc. (private) $11.00 Civitas Therapeutics $20.00
Chiral Quest (private) $13.00 Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals (CYCC) $7.20 Rib-X Pharmaceuticals (private) $20.00
Mithridion, Inc. (private) $2.90 Rosetta Genomics Ltd. (ROSG) $5.10 Acadia Pharma (ACAD) $15.00
Soligenix, Inc. (SNGX.OB) $2.28 Advanced Cardiac Therap (private) $5.00 Celsion Corporation (CLSN) $9.00
Alseres Pharmaceuticals (ALSE.PK) $1.00 BioLeap, Inc. (private) $5.00 VAXIMM AG (private) $8.00
EntreMed, Inc. (ENMD) $2.50 NeoGenomics, Inc. (NGNM.OB) $3.00
Mithridion, Inc. (private) $1.25
Totals $89.18 $90.80 $146.25

Outlook

At the start of 2009, we provided a positive outlook for the biotechnology industry.  Most of the drivers supporting our favorable view remain intact for 2011, such as the record number of products in clinical trials and annual industry R&D investment, improving access to capital, brisk pace of industry consolidation and licensing transactions, and attractive valuations among many small- and mid-capitalization companies, which we believe should continue to outperform their larger industry peers in 2011.

The +60% year-over-year increase in the aggregate value of financing transactions announced during JPMHC in 2011 supports our improving access to capital thesis, offset in part by the fact that both the quantity and value of M&A and licensing/partnering transactions during the period were below 2009 levels [excluding a single agreement for $2.4 billion in 2011].   Using 2010 as a guide, the mixed bag of activity emanating from JPMHC is simply the pause that refreshes and activity should accelerate throughout the year.

Looking beyond JPMHC, the key risk to our positive outlook in 2011 relates to the number of U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] drug approvals, which declined in 2010 and is more than 50% below the high of 56 new approvals in 1996 despite the fact that legislation passed in 2008 gave the FDA more money and resources.  There is no discounting the negative impact of clinical and regulatory setbacks on the psyche of biotechnology investors, as evidenced by the greater than 10% decline in the NASDAQ Biotech Index in late February 2009 following a spate of high profile disappointments.

Biotech Deal Activity Declines…The Pause that Refreshes?

* MD Becker Partners reporting live from the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference

This week, nearly 6,500 registrants gathered in San Francisco, California for the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference to hear 25-minute presentations from 338 life science companies.  For industry executives and investors, the annual event serves as a good barometer for the rest of the year.

We roamed the familiar halls of the Westin St. Francis Hotel to assess the mood among participants and also monitored online media commentaries throughout the event.  In general, there was a flurry of activity, the plane flights and networking receptions were crowded as usual, and several industry observers “Tweeted” a sense of optimism for 2010.  However, we sought to construct a less subjective assessment by analyzing year-over-year statistics from the conference.

Accordingly, we extensively reviewed company press releases issued during the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in both 2009 and 2010, with a particular focus on identifying the number of merger & acquisitions, licensing & partnering transactions, and financing deals announced each year during the four day event.

Merger and Acquisitions

In contrast to the absence of any significant M&A deals announced during the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in 2010, several large M&A transactions with an aggregate value of $702 million were disclosed during the first two days of the event in 2009 [January 12-15, 2009].  The largest deal went to Cephalon, Inc. (CEPH), which announced an agreement providing the company with an option to purchase all outstanding capital stock of Ception Therapeutics, Inc., a privately held biopharmaceutical company.  Under the terms of the option agreement, Cephalon paid Ception $100 million upfront for the option.  If Cephalon exercises its option, the company will purchase all of the outstanding capital stock of Ception for $250 million along with additional payments related to clinical and regulatory milestones.  Other transactions announced that year included:

  • Medtronic, Inc.’s (MDT) acquisition of privately held Ablation Frontiers, Inc. for an initial payment of $225 million plus potential additional payments contingent upon achievement of certain clinical milestones
  • The Medicines Company’s (MDCO) merger agreement with Targanta Therapeutics Corporation for $42 million in cash and additional regulatory and commercial milestone payments
  • NuVasive, Inc.’s (NUVA) option to acquire Progentix Orthobiology BV, a Netherlands based company focused on developing novel orthobiologics, consisting of an upfront investment of $15 million along with the obligation to purchase the remaining equity of Progentix for $45 million upon accomplishment of certain development milestones [with additional potential payments of up to $25 million upon the achievement of additional milestones and based upon NuVasive’s sales success]

Licensing and Partnering

Kicking off the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in 2010, privately held KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced a $290 million agreement with Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of the sanofi-aventis Group (SNY), for the development and commercialization of KB001, an investigational new biologic for the treatment or prevention of Pseudomonas aeruginosa [Pa] infections.  KaloBios, which is developing first-in-class human antibody therapeutics that offer advantages over other methods of human antibody creation in terms of immunogenicity, potency, and manufacturing yields, will receive an upfront payment of $35 million, plus development, regulatory and commercial milestones for a potential further $255 million, as well as royalties on eventual product sales.

While other licensing and partnering transactions were announced during the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in 2010, they were substantially smaller or specific financial terms were not disclosed.  These include:

  • Proteus Biomedical Inc. announced an exclusive worldwide license and collaboration agreement with Novartis AG (NVS) to develop and commercialize pharmaceutical products that incorporate Proteus’ novel sensor-based technologies in the field of organ transplantation along with certain option rights in cardiovascular and oncology product applications.  Under the terms of the agreement, Novartis will make upfront cash and equity investments in Proteus totaling $24 million and Proteus will also receive royalties on worldwide net sales of any Novartis products incorporating its sensor-based technology.
  • Trillium Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing innovative immune-based biologics, announced that it has entered into a definitive license agreement with Biogen Idec, Inc. (BIIB), granting the latter exclusive worldwide rights to one of Trillium’s development programs.  Under the terms of the agreement, Trillium will receive an upfront payment and is eligible to receive milestone payments based on achievements of specified clinical, regulatory and commercial accomplishments.  Trillium will also receive royalties on global product sales.  Biogen Idec will be solely responsible for clinical development, regulatory approvals, manufacturing and commercialization.
  • MedGenesis Therapeutix Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing and commercializing innovative treatments for patients with serious central nervous system [CNS] diseases, announced an agreement with Amgen, Inc. (AMGN) that provides MedGenesis with an exclusive, worldwide license for glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor [GDNF] protein in CNS and non-CNS indications.  As part of the license agreement, Amgen now holds a small equity stake in MedGenesis.  In parallel, Biovail Corporation (BVF) and MedGenesis concluded an agreement to collaborate on the development of GDNF in Parkinson’s disease and potentially other CNS indications.  GDNF is a naturally-occurring growth factor capable of protecting and promoting the survival of dopamine producing nerve cells.
  • AstraZeneca Plc (AZN) and CrystalGenomics announced a research collaboration to discover and develop a novel anti-infective for use as a potential antibacterial agent.  Under the terms of this agreement, Korea-based CrystalGenomics will receive research funding from AstraZeneca for two years.  CrystalGenomics will also be eligible to receive future milestones and royalty payments associated with development and commercialisation of a drug candidate.
  • AnaptysBio, Inc., a privately-held therapeutic antibody platform and product company, announced it has signed an agreement with Roche (RHHBY) for the development of novel antibody therapeutics.  Under the terms of the agreement, AnaptysBio will be responsible for generating novel antibodies using its proprietary somatic hypermutation platform and Roche will receive a worldwide license to develop and commercialize antibodies optimized by AnaptysBio.  In addition to a signing fee paid by Roche, AnaptysBio will be eligible to receive milestone payments and royalties upon product sales.

The six transactions announced during the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in 2010 with reported financial terms totaling $314 million pale in comparison to the ten deals reported at the meeting during 2009 worth more than $2.4 billion in aggregate value.  These included a $1.1 billion deal between ZymoGenetics, Inc. (ZGEN) and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY), a $500 million deal between Peptimmune, Inc. and Novartis AG, a $396 million deal between Micromet, Inc. (MITI) and Bayer AG (BAYZF.PK), and a $200 million deal between FORMA Therapeutics the Novartis Option Fund to develop inhibitors for an undisclosed protein-protein interaction target in the field of oncology, among others.

Financing

The quantity and aggregate dollar value of public and private financing transactions announced during the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference were essentially flat in 2010 compared with the prior year as reflected in the table below.

2009 2010
Company Name Ticker $ Million Raised Company Name Ticker $ Million Raised
Acclarent, Inc Private 26.00 Cyclacel Pharma CYCC 7.20
Mithridion, Inc Private 2.90 Advanced Cardiac Therap Private 5.00
Singulex, Inc. Private 19.00 VentiRx Pharma Private 25.00
Soligenix, Inc SNGX.OB 2.28 EntreMed, Inc ENMD 2.50
Akorn, Inc AKRX 25.00 BioLeap, Inc Private 5.00
Alseres Pharmaceuticals ALSE.PK 1.00 Cell Therapeutics, Inc CTIC 30.00
Chiral Quest Private 13.00 BIND Biosciences, Inc Private 11.00
Rosetta Genomics Ltd ROSG 5.10
TOTAL $89.18 TOTAL $90.80

 

Outlook

At the start of 2009, we provided a positive outlook for biotechnology, citing the sector’s defensive characteristics, favorable technical aspects, and improving fundamentals, such as the number of new product approvals, products in clinical trials and the brisk pace of industry consolidation and licensing transactions.  The latter was quickly reinforced by M&A transactions with an aggregate value of $702 million and licensing & partnering deals worth more than $2.4 billion in aggregate value announced January 12-15, 2009, during the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference.

While we believe that a positive outlook for 2010 is once again warranted, and the first two weeks of the year don’t necessary indicate a trend, hopefully the paucity of M&A activity coupled with the decline in both the quantity and value of licensing & partnering transactions announced during the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in 2010 is simply the pause that refreshes and the action improves throughout the year.