For the first time this year, BioWorld’s Biopharmaceutical Index is showing signs of life with an increase of 5.6%, boosted primarily by Alzheimer’s disease efforts from Biogen Inc. and Eli Lilly and Co. Biogen’s stock (NASDAQ:BIIB) is up about 36.4% this year and has been front and center due to its controversial FDA approval for Aduhelm (aducanumab) in June. Lilly’s stock (NYSE:LLY) has climbed by more than 44%, and it was granted breakthrough therapy designation a month ago for its Alzheimer’s candidate donanemab.
Public biopharmaceutical companies did manage to attract some investors off the sidelines in May with medical conference season getting into full gear. However, it was generally another lackluster month, with the Nasdaq Biotech index dropping 2% in the period in contrast to the broader markets with the Dow Jones Industrial Average growing by 2%. The sector, however, could get a significant boost in the next few days if the FDA gives the green light to Biogen Inc. and Eisai Co. Ltd.’s experimental Alzheimer’s disease therapy, aducanumab, a recombinant chimeric human IgG1 monoclonal antibody targeting beta-amyloid, that could be the first disease-modifying therapy for an indication that has seen no novel therapies approved in more than 15 years.
The rocky first quarter for public biopharmaceutical companies continued into April as the BioWorld Biopharmaceutical index remained flat for the period in contrast to the general market, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average growing by more than 2%. Weighing on the sector has been softer than expected earnings in the period among the top tier companies.
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.
The dramatic increase in COVID-19 infections in Europe and the U.S., combined with information overload surrounding the lead up to the Nov. 3 contentious U.S. presidential election, was more than enough to send investors to the sidelines in October.
According to BioWorld, almost $85 billion was raised by public and private biopharma companies globally in the second and third quarters alone, bringing the dollars generated to date to more than $100 billion – a total that smashes the existing record of about $69 billion that was raised in 2015.
The share prices of blue-chip biopharmaceutical companies continued on their lackluster trajectory, which started in June and collectively lost ground last month, with the BioWorld Biopharmaceutical index slipping about 1.3% as investors took a break in order to digest the deluge of COVID-19 vaccine data released during the period and the impact on the bottom lines that the pandemic has exerted among those companies that have reported their second-quarter results.
The share prices of blue-chip biopharmaceutical companies closed out the month on a high note to contribute to their stellar collective performance during the second quarter, with the BioWorld Biopharmaceutical index increasing almost 20%.