Delegates convening in San Francisco Monday for the 38th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference and other related biotechnology conferences running at the same time will certainly be in a better frame of mind than just 12 months ago. Back then, the sector had just come off a terrible fourth quarter, with investors shying away from biopharma company equities big time.
Despite a rough ride on the capital markets for much of the year, particularly in the second and third quarters, this did not prevent the biopharmaceutical sector from attracting a significant amount of capital. According to BioWorld, when the curtain closed on 2019, approximately $57.6 billion had been generated by global public and private companies.
Investors warmed to biopharma company equities, particularly in the final quarter of the year, with the BioWorld Biopharmaceutical Index increasing 23% in value during this period, helping the group climb to a respectable 14% for the year after being underwater from April through to September.
After a flurry of activity in December, when the FDA approved seven new molecular entities (NMEs), the total of novel drugs that were given the green light this year reached 48, a number that ranks third behind the record 59 new medicines the agency approved last year and 53 in 1996.
The next wave of drug discovery is being enabled by artificial intelligence (AI). This fact has not been lost on investors, who are keeping a close watch on emerging biopharma companies that are using AI and machine learning to enable the discovery of next-generation medicines.
Throughout the year we have published the views of company executives, government regulators, industry analysts and scientists on a variety of topics and, in our popular annual feature, we include a selection of these that paints a picture of the significant events that shaped 2019.
Throughout the year we have published the views of company executives, government regulators, industry analysts and scientists on a variety of topics and, in our popular annual feature, we include a selection of these that paints a picture of the significant events that shaped 2019. The major talking point was on the capital markets front where investors turned their backs on the biopharmaceutical sector for most of the year returned big time in the final quarter.
The warning bells about the global threat of the rise of antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) infections and dearth of new antibiotics seem to have been ringing for several years now. However, the prospects of companies developing new antibiotics, buoyed by regulatory incentives and grant funding, should on the face of it be an attractive proposition for investors.
The American Society of Hematology meeting closed yesterday and served to shine the light on the latest research and progress of new therapies targeting hematological malignancies as well as other serious blood disorders. Specifically, a great deal of attention was focused on the treatment of blood cancers and, judging by the increase in value of the BioWorld Cancer index, investors and analysts alike were impressed with what they heard.
After dropping to its lowest valuation at the end of September, the BioWorld Neurological Diseases index, a price-weighted index of public biopharmaceutical companies that are focused on developing therapies to treat neurological diseases, got on a roll and climbed 22% during the next two months. However, a surprising trial failure reported by Sage Therapeutics Inc. last week served to eat into those index gains.