As we entered a new decade, BioWorld writers took the opportunity to review the highs and lows of the past 12 months and they concluded that 2019 was a great year for the sector – save for a few bumps in the road.
DUBLIN – Last year was yet another banner year for European biotechnology firms engaged in drug development. The sector took in $7.739 billion in equity funding in 2019, just edging past the previous high of $7.715 billion it reached in 2018. The second half of the year was a marked improvement on the first half, but that was linked to the timing of a couple of large-scale transactions.
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.
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.
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%.
DUBLIN – European biotechnology firms engaged in drug discovery and development raised an aggregate $3.172 billion in equity investment during the first half of 2019, down 19% on the same period last year. Unless there is a substantial pickup in the third and fourth quarters, the sector's record-breaking 2018 total of $7.715 billion looks to be out of reach.