JPM 2023 Healthcare Conference: Key Takeaways for Biotech Companies
J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference has become a must-attend event for biotech and pharma C-suite executives, investors, bankers, analysts, and service providers alike. It is a well-established trendsetter for MedTech, Biotech and healthcare industries for the year to come. This year the conference hosted more than 400 presenting companies, which, coupled with contiguous and ancillary events like Biotech Showcase, WuXi’s Global Forum, and the East-West Biopharma Summit, attracted one of the largest crowds in the space.
After a two-year COVID-induced hiatus, the energy was high, and downtown San Francisco was once again swarming with badged business suits. It was a welcome, albeit at times irritating, sight to have coffee shops, cafes and restaurants informing me that they were beyond capacity.
Everyone agreed that 2022 was a turbid year and that the slowing of the economy and rising interest rates has led to a significant cooling off in the market. The number of life sciences M&A deals was near historic lows, which was in large part due to overall market anxiety and mismatches in buyer-seller price expectations. The early-stage biotech sector suffered the most, while late-stage companies faired significantly better.
My conversations with multiple stakeholders revealed consistent macroeconomic concerns, which included supply chain challenges, geopolitical fears triggered by the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, and China’s unclear positioning.
On a positive note, most MedTech and Biotech companies that presented at the conference reported strong data and, in many instances, outperformed their projected goals. Rare diseases continue to attract investors, and there is also interest in cardiovascular diseases, whereas the oncology space feels overcrowded.
What has become clear is that in the current environment, biotech investors are looking for clinical data. The days when intriguing preclinical platform technology companies would be likely candidates for funding appear to be over. This has created the proverbial catch-22 for early-stage companies looking for funding, where you can only get funding if you demonstrate positive clinical data, but to generate such data you need funding.
Given this challenging investment landscape the biotech companies are starting to pay much closer attention to the following:
- Cost-effective clinical development. Quantifying and optimizing the amount the company needs to raise is becoming essential to securing funding. Investors are asking for more granularity and are questioning each line item in the budget. Thus, biotechs are becoming much more attuned to the possibility of running more cost-effective clinical programs and are looking at designing smaller and shorter trials, to outsourcing all or part of the work to ex-US vendors and clinical trial venues, , and to securing some element of nondilutive grant funding.
- Better clinical science. There is a growing need for more streamlined signal identifying trials in carefully selected beachhead indications that can answer key questions and help bring the discussions with investors to the inflection point. When possible, targeting rare and orphan indications, or selecting a biomarker-driven subset of patients in a broader indication, entertaining orphan, fast track, and breakthrough designations, are options being viewed very positively by the funders.
Clearly, there are many unknowns that will continue to shape the financing of clinical development in 2023 for the biotech sector. All options identified to date will necessitate more hard work for companies like Cromos Pharma, whose value proposition has always been to help design intelligent clinical programs and execute them swiftly and economically.
About Cromos Pharma
Cromos Pharma is a US-based, international contract research organization delivering fully integrated clinical research solutions, in all trial phases, across a wide range of therapeutic indications. Our expert team, comprised of 95% MDs, has extensive expertise in study design, medical writing, regulatory affairs, site management, patient recruitment and data management.
Cromos Pharma has experience in delivering success in a wide range of trial types, from biosimilars and generics, to successfully managing trials of novel therapeutics in a wide range of clinical indications. Our team provides full-service solutions to international pharma and biotech companies in high-recruiting regions, assuring exceptional data quality. Cromos Pharma combines global expertise with in-depth experience and knowledge in the US, Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Republic of Georgia, and Türkiye resulting in rapid patient recruitment. Our team has met or reduced enrollment timelines in 95% of conducted trials.
We provide accelerated study start-up timelines in our regions of operation. Regulatory inspections by FDA and EMA and site audits attest to the highest quality of our clinical data.
Established in 2004, Cromos Pharma has strong regional experience that is supported by a global network of offices. Its international HQ is in Portland, Oregon, USA and its European HQ is in Dublin, Ireland.