When AbbVie spun off from Abbott two years ago, it had one giant plus in its favor: the world's top-selling drug Humira. R&D, though, hasn't been very productive in the past decade in terms of new drug approvals.
In biotech, you don't raise money when you need it. You raise cash when you can. And right now, Juno Therapeutics is bundling cash in bulk.
Fundamental scientific and patient advances, as well as the investors who embrace them, have transformed biotech in just the last few years. As this has coincided with a broader resurgence in the stock market, industry valuations have skyrocketed. Suddenly, big cap biotechs Gilead Sciences and Amgen are larger than all but four of their pharma peers as measured by market cap.
In biotech, here are the top 10 news stories of the year so far, based on web traffic.
What makes Woodford such a potent figure is the example he sets in backing global drug development, where even small companies knit together scientific, administrative and support functions from an international cast of players.
Polaris Partners, an ambitious venture investor that's been behind a legion of cutting-edge biotech startups, has come up with $450 million for its latest fund. The cash tops the $400 million mark that the VC had outlined in an SEC filing last summer, signaling another success for the year's blossoming class of new biotech venture funds.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation announced today that it had cashed in its royalty stream from Vertex Pharmaceuticals' breakthrough CF drugs it backed for a $3.3 billion windfall. But where the foundation trumpeted the blockbuster deal with Royalty Pharma as a prelude to more investments into next-gen drugs, the New York Times' Andrew Pollack had no trouble finding a critic eager to lambaste the foundation for the ultimate sin: putting profits ahead of patients.
The Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development created the industry standard on R&D budgets when it pegged average R&D costs at close to $1 billion for each new drug. Today, Tufts researchers updated their figures and boosted the total to $2.9 billion.
Chris Viehbacher took the helm of Sanofi with one clear message about the future: R&D at the Big Pharma had to undergo a radical restructuring. The lost decade in drug development following 2000 proved that Sanofi and others had to mend their ways, he said, forcing the company to reach outside the organization for innovation and shed the dead wood that had accumulated in its research ops.
It's become a matter of commonly accepted faith in the biopharma biz that it takes more than $1 billion and 10 years to develop a new drug. Industry associations like to cite that factoid as a reason for the big prices we're seeing on new therapies, often while prodding the FDA for faster action.