Burrill & The State of the Biotech Union

In what has become the biotech equivalent of the “State of the Union” address, G. Steven Burrill, CEO of Burrill & Co., gave his annual status report on the biotech industry at BIO’s annual meeting in Chicago. While it featured the usual facts and figures (no worries, we’ll get to the highlights), Burrill’s comments on the growing importance of emerging markets stood out. As he told the audience, pharmaceutical sales growth is no longer coming from the usual suspects--U.S., Europe, or Japan. Rather, growth will be driven by India, China, Brazil, Eastern Europe, and other countries where improving economies are enabling more spending on healthcare. Burrill pointed out that in 2001, just 13% of the “pharma world” was in emerging markets, whereas forecasts suggest 50% of business will be in those markets by 2020. And though drug companies are increasingly turning their focus to emerging markets—every big pharma has ambitious growth forecasts in those regions--there is still a long way to go for the industry to truly adapt to the different needs of the developing world. “All of us in this industry are thinking in a U.S.-centric way, and in a 2010, even 2005 way,” Burrill said. “We need to spend time thinking about the subtypes of diseases and markets that are going to be big in a few years.” Industry must consider where the need is as well as consider the cultural context to filling that need. Food for thought. Meanwhile, here are some of those facts and figures Burrill likes to flash up on the screen: --Last year, U.S. biotechs raised $48 billion between capital and partnering activity, the largest sum  in the history of the industry. --Since last year, there have been 10 biotech IPOs and market cap for the industry grew by roughly a third, which Burrill said signaled a return to confidence in biotech. --Sales for the biotech industry were down 8% to $91.5 billion in 2009. Burrill called it “not an important measure,” of the health of the industry. However, R&D spending slowed by 19% to $19.3 billion as companies hunkered down in tougher economic times. --Of the roughly 100 firms that went public between 2003 and 2009, nearly half are still under water. As Burrill noted, that’s an unpleasant figure to cite when approaching Wall Street with a hot new deal. --76% of the prescriptions written in the U.S. today are for generic drugs. “Not a bad business,” Burrill adds. --The year of the patent cliff is nigh. Projected sales losses due to patent expiries is $12.3 billion this year, $32 billion in 2011, and $24 billion in 2012.

Author: Lisa Jarvis

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