Six become Be the Buzz of BIO contest finalists

BIO has selected six companies as finalists in the “Be the Buzz of BIO” contest – see who made the list below! Now it’s time to vote for your favorite – just go to http://community.convention.bio.org/Summit09/Contest-Vote/tabid/68/Default.aspx

Voting is open until April 17. The finalist with the most votes will be chosen and notified on or about April 21st.

Finalists:
AMRI
Archimedes Inc.
Biobide S.L.
Impact Systems
Koronic Pharmaceuticals
Zenda Technologies

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Check it out – Podcasts from BIO Investor Forum

We’ve posted a variety of podcast interviews to the http://www.bio.org home page –
Barry Greene, Alnylam
Greg Simon, Faster Cures
Norman Scherzer, The Life Raft Group
Timothy Coetzee, Fast Forward
John Craighead, BIO (discussing event overall)
Tricia Brooks, BIO (discussing venture philanthropy and advocacy group presentations)

Return to a thriving marketplace – BIF Closing Plenary

The Closing Plenary at the BIO Investor Forum focused on what it’s going to take to return to a thriving marketplace.

The financial crisis has led to additional investment in the biotech space, which has yet to be retracted. The outperformance of biotech will continue to attract investors.

Small biotech companies have been hurt the most and no value is being given to pipeline – many companies trade below cash.

Panelists believe consolidation is real this time. Staying away from structured finance like convertible debt is advised. Investors like simple financing models that they can forecast accurately. Look for a few truly great companies to emerge from the market turmoil.

Changes in the overall healthcare system under the next administration are a major topic investors are watching.

Much of what has backlogged the FDA over the last decade has been “me-too” drugs. Biotech companies need to innovate and find new MOA to add value to patients and investors and to please the FDA, making a better overall drug industry. Future drug approvals may first be in a single indication, with follow-on indications being added based on additional clinical data.

The classic debate remains over the optimum time for partnering, early vs. late, or even not at all.

Both sides were argued, but all agreed that capital access is critical to the industry and it may take “many shots on goal” to find winners.

The CF Pipeline

Cystic Fibrosis is an orphan disease with approximately 30,000 individuals suffering from CF in the United States, and another 60,000 in the rest of the world. It is believed that CF affects an average of 1 in every 4000 individuals, with the rate varying based on ethnicity.

Two new options in the pipeline offer patients a more upstream therapeutic approach.
• Inspire Pharmaceuticals – Denufosol tetrasodium
• PTC Therapeutics – PTC124

Session Highlights:
• Still undetermined where new treatments will fit into the current line of therapy. Clinicians would like to treat patients with drugs that get at the major causes of disease, after newborns have been screened (bottom-up approach). However, both treatments have not been tested in children 5 and under, making it very difficult to use a “bottom-up approach.
• More efficient and effective inhalation drug delivery will go a long way to decreasing the burden on patients.
• Effectively finding treatments which aid patients through exacerbation events will help to improve patient lung function. These infections typical require patients to receive treatment in the hospital for 7-12 days with lung function not returning to pre-infection levels. Longer clinical trials are planned for both Denofosol and PTC124 to address this issue.

Merger Notes From the BIO Investor Forum

Notes from David Thomas who is out in San Francisco at the BIO Investor Forum,

  • Reverse mergers: It is difficult for a shell in this market climate to take on quality biotechs due to disagreements on valuation of the VCs vs. public company boards. Other issues with doing reverse mergers are disagreements with fitting the board with old shell vs new biotech board members. Public shells are looking for data driven catalysts that will move company valuation within two years.
  • Big Pharma: The climate today is better than ever before in terms of Big Pharma’s willingness and interest in acquiring early stage biotechs. Cash available and strategic position at Big Pharma suggests further opportunities. New players, in particular Japanese pharma companies, are entering the M&A space.
  • The tough public market climate, with no major biotech IPOs since October 2007, is shifting exit strategies toward acquisition. Furthermore, the data suggests that the return to VC investors on IPO exits is not always better than a return via acquisition. Investors are setting the deal price today, not the VCs.
  • Capital restraints: As companies and investors conserve cash and pull back on risk, the losers will be the drugs that never get a shot on goal. Lack of funding will result in narrowing the breadth of indications for compounds making it less likely for serendipitous findings. Many companies will cease to exist due to the inability to consolidate or raise new capital.
  • Suggestions for biotechs looking to be acquired: Stay focused on your internal expertise and not on external in-licensing or M&A. Selling off of assets to raise cash and return to your core focus is another option.

Productive Partnerships in Biomedical Translational Medicine

From one of my colleagues, Joseph Colangelo at the BIO Investor Forum,

“The university, financing and industry communities have gathered to discuss some of the core issues involved in developing and commercializing early stage technologies. Improving the relationship between the stakeholders in translational research can go a long way to helping each side understand the pressures and challenges facing all parties.

The financing community as well as patient advocacy groups are continuing to build relationships with universities and their professors to better understand the pathway from innovation to patients.

Universities are becoming more creative than ever in the commercialization process. Investment has been made in a variety of different areas including, infrastructure for technology incubators, pre-seed capital for product development, and emphasis on entrepreneurship have all led to the advancement of new technologies along the developmental pipeline.”

Thanks Joseph! See you when you get back to DC.

Epilepsy Facts From the BIO Investor Forum

  • Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by hyper-synchronous electrical discharge in the brain. The disease affects approximately 1% of the U.S. population (3 million) with a slightly higher 1-2% worldwide incidence due to less consistent prenatal care. The incidence is also expected to increase in the U.S. due to the aging population.
  • The current epilepsy drug market is more than $14B world wide. However, 90% of the sales result from non-epilepsy CNS indications including chronic pain. One notable exception is Kepra with over $1B in epilepsy indication sales due to a superior safety profile.
  • It is estimated that approximately 36% of epilepsy patients are pharmaco-resistant and medically refractive to currently available therapies. New epilepsy drugs with novel mechanisms of actions are needed to treat this large and growing patient population. In addition, over 50% of patients discontinue or are not compliant with current therapies due to epilepsy drug side effects.
  • In addition, only approximately 150 sales reps are required to detail products to neurologists who specialize in epilepsy disorders, making seizure disorders a potential high margin attractive market for biopharmaceutical companies.