The credit crunch could play a miserly role in hobbling biotech, but I have yet to see it. As long as big pharma sees its future in biologics, you can expect to see investors laying their bets to benefit from that trend. The JP Morgan meeting in January is a reliable harbinger of the level of excitement surrounding deal-making in biotechnology. That event is still a few days away, but the strong buzz around the meeting is a positive sign that 2008 will go down as a good year in the industry.
There is no indication, though, that the stock market will play a major supporting role in the near term. Unfortunately, a chilly Wall Street for IPOs--and no one can reliably predict when that will come to an end--can only make merger options even more attractive. Some great biotech companies in the making will be bought out and blended into pharma, and they're likely to lose some of the aggressive thinking and planning that has dramatically defined the differences between large and small in this business.
The venture groups, meanwhile, are all sounding suitably bullish. If investors keep jumping into new funds, there will be more money available for players--particularly in the U.S.