Trends From BIO International Conference: Biotech Sector Performance YTD,MTD

The 2011 Bio Meeting was well attended surpassing last year’s number around 15,000. International participation continues to grow with 37% of attendees outside of the U.S. Virtually every country that has industry and universities is looking at biotech development (BIO will release official data this evening.)

The overall view of the biotechnology sector was optimistic as usual with some caution on cutbacks in R&D spending for drugs. The industry is more risk adverse and  financing  is being squeezed by less VC capital and a trickling of IPOs. This drives the M&A trend  as the food chain effect kicks in. New technologies in biofuels and crop science are new areas for growth. Diagnostics and personalized medicine themes continue to gain traction. Social media is a catalyst to marketing and patient advocacy groups is becoming more important overall.

Here is a brief summary of notes gleaned from general sessions: Ernst & Young, Burrill and several individual sessions on drugs and diagnostics. Most of the detailed data is publicly available. Sorry for the “bulletized” approach but timeliness is more important.

  • There is overall stability in the industry despite tight capital markets and R&D cutbacks. Revenues and Net Income are up but number of companies are down. Financing is skewed toward larger cap companies.
  • Funding tends to be “tranched” with success milestones.
  • Buzzword “Innovation Capital” is down 20% meaning lower end is being squeezed-start-ups, micr0-caps, IPO’s etc. Angel funding is more important.
  • So called “biobuck” deals or within bio-alliances were steady at $30B.
  • VC funding overall($10B) with biotech down to 12.2% from 18% prior year and WEB 2.0 up to 18.4% from 10%.
  • FDA is more conservative with only 22 approvals in 2010 compared to 36 in 2004.Regualtory barriers are up.
  • Orphan drugs have lower risk due to targeted trials genetic disease with well defined unmet need.
  • Risk of drug development needs to be reduced in pre-clinical stages and Phase I; and through translational research with smaller companies and universities.
  • Innovation is at target level. Better information on drug candidates is needed at the pre-clinical level.
  • Risk is very high with reimbursement if pharmaco-economic model is not well defined, but focus should be on the patient not the payor.
  • Biofuels, bioenergy and crop science are very promising with huge global needs. Brazil can be a major leader. China, Brazil and India are coming on very strong(BRIC).
  • Social media (WEB 2.0) in evidence with PR, patient advocacy and linking of smaller groups.
  • Diagnostics are an attractive growth market due to companion diagnostics, application of new genomics tools like sequencing and DNA analysis and new rapid tests.
  • The pharmaceutical business model is changing not only because of the “patent cliff” and lack of blockbusters but also the marketing approach as there are now 75,000 drug reps down from 100k.
  • There is still a huge unmet need in chronic diseases like hypertension, obesity and diabetes.Stem cells and regenerative medicine have made clinical progress.
  • Mobile connectivity is well underway with numerous healthcare apps by disease and provider network. Confluence of technologies and rise of “digital health”is in evidence. Glucose testing can be done on an iPhone.

Market update for Q2 will be  coming but the ETFs (FBT,IBB,XBI) indicate that the biotech sector is up 12-14%+ YTD and down 1-2%  for June. In contrast the QQQ is flat month to date and up 4.4% YTD. Biotech is  flat today relative to the market.

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