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Poxel’s shift to new therapeutic areas may be necessary despite Japan’s approval for its diabetes drug. Twymeeg looks set to be hamstrung by placebo-controlled studies without outcomes data.
The subdued number of acquisitions of biotech by big pharma has more than one cause. The structural improvement of the process of drug discovery and development at big pharma is the main one.
Intellia’s announcement of the first in vitro gene editing proof of principle sent shockwaves through the life science investment space. But are there still many known unknowns.
The pharmaceutical sector is often unfairly demonized in the drug pricing debate. Other participants exploit the complex US health care system almost with impunity.
Biogen’s recent contentious approval put the cat amongst the pigeons in the debate on surrogate markers as a basis for accelerated approval. The history of such approvals goes back to the last century.
Factors in addition to the rejuvenation of pharmaceutical revenues and biotechnology product failures are likely to pull in opposite directions at the sector’s recovery from the pandemic.
Revenues are still elusive for a surprising number of the novel drugs approved by the FDA five years ago. Emergent safety issues and confirmatory clinical trial failures were less common than lack of competitiveness as the main reason for revenue weakness.
Veklury rescued Gilead’s weak underlying first-quarter performance. But the pandemic and its associated behavioral effects, as well as patent expiries, will continue to drag.
Recently launched branded drugs prescribed by specialist physicians and marketed by smaller commercial-stage biotech companies remain in the eye of the pandemic storm.
Influenza and pneumococcal vaccine sales were initially strong at the start of the pandemic. Recent weak revenues for travel, childhood and premium vaccines could raise population immunity concerns, however.
An early high for Pfizer with its strong first-quarter results was followed by patent waiver worries. At the other end of the spectrum, Esperion reminded us of the challenges in making a commercial success as a small biopharma firm in the pandemic.
Novartis’s comparatively anemic revenue growth and Lilly’s sales shortfall suggest that hopes for an immediate sector recovery from the pandemic are premature.
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