The devastating societal and economic effects caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic should sound a warning bell on how ill-prepared we are in our ability to fight lethal infectious diseases for which no effective therapies or vaccines currently exist. Indirectly, the intense public attention on companies that are engaged in developing COVID-19 cures is also spilling over to companies researching to uncover new anti-infectives that will be needed to replace the diminishing arsenal of effective therapies to combat drug-resistant bacteria and fungi. This is certainly evident among public companies in the space, with the BioWorld Infectious Diseases index showing an increasing upward trend since the beginning of the year. At market close on May 11, the index had, in fact, grown in value by a whopping 47%.
After being hit with the major financial market meltdown when the COVID-19 outbreak decimated U.S. capital markets during March that saw the valuations of public biopharmaceutical companies developing new medicines plummet, it appears that they have put that reversal behind them with a dramatic price surge in April.
While COVID-19 dominated the clinical data news during the month of April, with 45% due to trial delays, suspensions and terminations, and another 12% focused on therapeutic and vaccine development targeting the deadly infection, a number of companies still posted positive phase III data for other indications and are preparing for regulatory filings and commercialization.
Although, the appetite for biopharma IPOs in the U.S. slowed during the meltdown of the financial markets in March, the flow of new offerings has been steady this year, according to BioWorld, with 11 companies graduating to the public stage and listing on U.S. exchanges by the end of April, collectively raising $1.774 billion along the way. This amount is 9.5% higher than the $1.62 billion raised from 15 U.S. biopharma IPOs completed in the same period last year.
Investors are beginning to show confidence in the financial markets, once again believing that the worst of the ravages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are behind us and that the stringent restrictions on business activity and personal behavior currently in place will be slowly lifted. As a result, stocks in all sectors rallied in April from their March meltdowns. The Dow Jones Industrial Average recorded an 11.08% increase in the period, its largest one-month percentage gain since January 1987.