With the clock ticking on the urgent need to develop new antibiotics, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has given policy makers a sharp reminder that society should not lose focus on antibiotic resistance as well, which has the potential to dwarf COVID-19 in terms of deaths and economic costs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, noted in its Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the U.S. 2019 report that more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur each year, and more than 35,000 people die as a result. Against a universal decline in the effectiveness of antibiotics, there has been a renaissance of interest in using phage therapy, whose use has waxed and waned for almost a century.
In the opening panel of the BIO CEO & Investor digital conference BIO president and CEO Michelle McMurry-Heath explored some of the key issues that are currently impacting the sector with Adena Friedman, president and CEO of Nasdaq, which, this month, marks the 50th anniversary of its launch in 1971.
Biopharmaceutical companies developing cancer therapies had a productive year with about 38% of the record 53 new medicines approved by the FDA targeting oncology indications. This was one of the contributing factors for the 21% growth in the valuation of the price weighted BioWorld Cancer index in 2020.
Following the FDA giving the green light to seven new medicines in December, it brought the approval total of new molecular entities (NMEs) in 2020 to 53, an amount that equals the number of new medicines that were approved in 1996 and ranking it second equal all-time just behind the 59 NMEs that were approved in 2018.
It was a turbulent year for publicly traded biopharmaceutical companies, but after a lackluster first quarter that saw biopharma equities plunge dramatically, particularly at the beginning of March, there was a gradual recovery over the final three quarters of the year. In order to determine just how well the sector performed on the capital markets, BioWorld examined the fortunes of 516 U.S. biopharma and related stocks.
A decade from now, 2020 likely will be considered a year like no other in terms of the massive amounts of capital raised amid a raging pandemic. Financing transactions of all types smashed records and in terms of volume hit 1,580, a total that was 42% higher than last year.
A decade from now, 2020 likely will be considered a year like no other in terms of the massive amounts of capital raised amid a raging pandemic. Financing transactions of all types smashed records and in terms of volume hit 1,580, a total that was 42% higher than last year despite the serious disruptions to normal business operations.
The exceptional and speedy response in bringing safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics to combat COVID-19 has kept investors engaged and supportive. As a result, not only have companies involved in this research and development benefited, but so has the sector as a whole. Those biopharma companies have enjoyed significant jumps in their share values, with the BioWorld Drug Developers index closing up 4.6% in December and up 29% for 2020.
While everyone will be glad to see 2020 in their rearview mirror, the biopharmaceutical sector can count its blessings, as it emerges from a period where it has surprisingly received record public and private financings and enjoyed strong investor support. This is in sharp contrast to most of the global economy, which has been decimated by the ongoing pandemic.