This past year has held some pleasant surprises for me. I was particularly intrigued by the Plexxikon buyout for $935 million, the bulk of it upfront. In a sane world, Plexxikon--which developed the remarkable new skin cancer drug Zelboraf (vemurafenib)--would have gone public. But as far as the IPO market for biotech companies is concerned, this isn't a sane world.
Plexxikon helped illustrate the potential biotechs have to distinguish themselves with great science and a sharp development focus. That kind of expertise is clearly worth a considerable sum; a maxim other companies like Pharmasset have clearly learned how to profit by. Plexxikon's experience also demonstrated the limitations developers face in a world where investors will typically turn a cold shoulder to all the risks involved in drug development.
I'm wrapping this year's run of FierceBiotech reports with a look back, and forward. The key trends of 2011--with a wide array of venture capitalists complaining loudly, the R&D revolution still at the midway point, deal-making more important than ever, and regulators feeling the heat from a disgruntled industry--will all play into 2012.
Fundamental changes can't occur quickly in biotech. It took years to get where we are today. Years more are required to see if new strategies can work or new biotechs can navigate the hazards of clinical development. Now that we've passed the 10th anniversary of FierceBiotech, we can say we've reached the second generation of the publication. And we're planning to take our coverage of the industry up a notch or two in 2012. Call it FierceBiotech 2.0.
We'll be taking our traditional holiday break next week, returning the Tuesday after New Year's Day. It's a chance for us to retool some aspects of our coverage and come back stronger than ever. We hope you enjoy your own break and will see you in the new year. - John Carroll (twitter | email)