HONG KONG – Looking to boost its R&D capacity, China’s Sunshine Guojian Pharmaceutical (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. launched an IPO on July 22 that raised ¥1.7 billion (US$240 million) on Shanghai’s STAR market. Shares (SSE:688336) almost doubled in value on the first day of trading, closing at ¥54.10, for a gain of 92%.
Time will tell whether what the Trump administration is calling a “historic” and “landmark” trade agreement with China will better enable drug and device companies to more fairly compete in the Chinese market without having to sacrifice their intellectual property (IP) and technology.
For biopharma, 2019 can be described as a terrific year – with a few asterisks. The financial markets were flourishing, with venture capital dollars, in particular, flowing to the sector, while dealmaking reached historic proportions. Meanwhile, scientific breakthroughs led the way as cell and gene therapies gained ground, the first signs of success emerged with new technologies like CRISPR and the long-awaited promise of genomics found its way to the front lines of health care.
BOSTON – For investors, immuno-oncology (I-O) is still proving "very hard" to buy into, said Christiana Bardon, portfolio manager at Burrage Capital, during a panel session at Biopharm America. "Honestly it was hard from the get-go. If you think about the original ipilimumab data that came from [Medarex Inc.], it was not obvious that [the drug] worked, right? It was like a head fake, actually. Now we're anxiously looking for the next-gen, but the truth is we've been utterly unsuccessful."
Although investor sentiment continues to remain low and unlikely to change for the remainder of the year, it seems that fact has fallen on deaf ears of those companies looking to graduate to the public ranks. Already in the first few days of September, five biopharma companies have added themselves to the IPO runway, bringing the number of pending U.S. offerings to 12, according to BioWorld.
Despite the ups and downs of the general markets and a U.S. government shutdown at the beginning of the year that contributed to no biopharma companies graduating to the public ranks in January, the enthusiasm for biopharma IPOs has remained steady since then. In fact, a flurry of IPO listings on U.S. stock exchanges last month helped bring the total of those offerings to 30 at the halfway point in the year.
Although the public biopharmaceutical sector set a fast pace at the beginning of the year, it has been all downhill since February, with the BioWorld Biopharmaceutical index losing 16% of its value. However, a strong performance in June, with the group gaining 7.6%, helped the sector marginally push into positive territory year-to-date (YTD). At the halfway point of the year, the index is trailing the general market by a wide margin, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average trading up 14% and the Nasdaq Composite index up 20%.
The striking of a Health and Human Services (HHS) rule requiring TV ads for prescription drugs to include list prices may turn up the temperature on the political roasting of biopharma companies – and stoke the pressure for Congress to do something about those prices.