by John Carroll, Maureen Martino, Liz Jones-Hollis and Erica Teichert
It's no surprise in looking over the top 10 biotech IPOs of 2010 that the best performer doesn't actually have a pipeline of therapeutics.
Instead, Pacific Biosciences is advancing a new set of tools for developers to study their prospects, and in so doing will help advance a genomic sequencing revolution that is clearly on the horizon. After the company helped create market excitement for that vision, investors bought in.
That excitement, though, is all too clearly absent from the rest of the field. Even Ironwood, a Boston biotech with a solid management team headed by a passionate CEO in Peter Hecht and a clear path to an FDA app later this year, struggled to go public and keep its price up.
But while 2010 proved to be a tough year for biotech IPOs, at least the window was slightly opened. Back in 2009, you had as much chance of making it to the moon and back as you did flying a new life sciences offering on Wall Street.
Biotech, though, is not an industry for the weak of heart. It takes a lot of guts to build a company on the kind of odds everyone faces when setting out to push a therapy through the clinic. At some point investors are likely to get back in the game and start betting on the best groups that demonstrate the best prospects. For now, though, 2011 looks like another year in which every biotech dream will be submitted to a harsh reality check. Investors back products, not promises.
1. Pacific Biosciences - $200M
6. NuPathe - $50M