Biopharma deal-making activity continues to keep the same pace as 2020, but the value of completed mergers and acquisitions is still painfully languishing in comparison with other recent years. While pandemic partnerships appear to be falling, oncology and regenerative medicine are driving the high-money deals, as are an increasing number of billion-dollar pacts. Meanwhile preclinical efforts account for about 23% of this year’s total value, and the amounts of up-front payments, particularly for clinical-stage products, are rising.
In June, Morphosys AG acquired Constellation Pharmaceuticals Inc. in a deal worth $1.7 billion in which the German biotech monetizes a royalty from a big-selling antibody, spending the lump sum on research into small-molecule BET inhibitors. It’s a bold move and one that perhaps demonstrates a renewed interest in small-molecule drugs after a period when antibody-based molecules have been the dominant force in the market for branded drugs.
As confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 continue their downward slide, biopharma research efforts remain front and center, providing a new therapeutic for emergency use in the U.S. and high-efficacy phase III data for what could become the country’s fourth vaccine and its first protein subunit option.
While the amount of regulatory data in 2021 is up by 19% over last year, the 90 approvals by the U.S. FDA through late June is a decline of 17% over the same period in 2020, although the agency gave its blessing to the highest number of new molecular entities within the last several years.