Big Pharma paying more for new biotech deals

With biotech companies increasingly playing the role of chief innovators in the drug development world, Big Pharma's appetite for new deals continues to grow. And that's helping to drive up valuations for developers, according to Burrill & Co.

The financial crunch that hit hard a year ago has eased considerably, says the investment banking group, with new funds flowing to biotech companies. In the third quarter, financings and pacts ginned $13 billion, up 147 percent from a year ago.

At the beginning of the year, says Steven Burrill, 51 percent of 328 public biotechs had a valuation under $100 million. That figure has now dropped to 41 percent. "This clearly shows that conditions have improved considerably since the initial capital markets meltdown," said Burrill.

Big Pharma, meanwhile, says it's ready to pay more for biotech innovations. "We continue to see business development as a major contributor to future growth," said Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler at the Reuters Health Summit, "and we have the capacity to do it."

- here's the story from Reuters