2020 brought a huge boom in health­care in­vest­ment. How big? SVB an­a­lysts have the record-break­ing an­swer

As the past year de­vel­oped, it be­came clear­er that 2020 was prov­ing to be mas­sive for the bio­phar­ma in­dus­try. But just how big did the sec­tor boom?

The fi­nan­cial gu­rus over at Sil­i­con Val­ley Bank at­tempt­ed to an­swer that ques­tion Thurs­day, as their top health­care ad­vi­sors re­leased their 2020 An­nu­al Re­port. All in all, SVB has the to­tal amount raised pegged at a stag­ger­ing $16.8 bil­lion, far eclips­ing the fundrais­ing record set in 2019 and mark­ing the biggest year-over-year growth in al­most a decade.

Jonathan Nor­ris

It’s al­so the fourth straight record year in health­care VC fundrais­ing, SVB man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Jonathan Nor­ris wrote in the re­port.

So what caused the boom? There were mul­ti­ple fac­tors that con­tributed, but it wasn’t that wells of cash sud­den­ly sprung up every­where. In fact, the num­ber of funds ded­i­cat­ed sole­ly to life sci­ences re­mained ex­act­ly the same last year as it did in 2019.

Rather, the me­di­an deal size in 2020 — $415 mil­lion — was near­ly dou­ble that of the me­di­an $217 mil­lion a year ear­li­er. Add to that a bustling IPO mar­ket, with 2020’s record class of 84 ex­its end­ing up about twice as valu­able as 2019’s, as well as strong M&A ac­tion and the in­dus­try had it­self quite the lu­cra­tive year.

Though Nor­ris did not in­clude SPACs in his fundrais­ing fig­ures, he not­ed that there was a large up­swing in such merg­ers, with VCs and hedge funds putting to­geth­er about $2 bil­lion in deals.

The biggest growth oc­curred dur­ing the third quar­ter of 2020, with a whop­ping 482 deals tak­ing place across all health­care sec­tors. That’s the most deals by far in any quar­ter in the last three years, with on­ly 2020’s fourth quar­ter clock­ing in above 400 deals dur­ing that times­pan.

There were al­so sig­nif­i­cant in­creas­es not just in Se­ries A rounds, but fol­low-on rounds as well by com­pa­nies like­ly to file for an IPO. On­col­o­gy led the way in both ar­eas: the field pulled in $1.3 bil­lion in Se­ries A fund­ing, up from $959 mil­lion in 2019, and $7.6 bil­lion in lat­er rounds and health­care deals, up from $6 bil­lion the pri­or year.

Nor­ris ad­di­tion­al­ly dis­cussed SVB’s glob­al health­care in­dex to track the per­for­mance of post-IPO com­pa­nies com­pared to the broad­er mar­ket­place. Cre­at­ed in 2018, the in­dex record­ed an over­all growth of 71% among these com­pa­nies, vast­ly out­per­form­ing the Nas­daq health­care in­dex (+31%) and S&P 500 (+15%).

These now-pub­lic com­pa­nies al­so out­per­formed the big tech quin­tet of Face­book, Ap­ple, Mi­crosoft, Google and Ama­zon, which com­bined for about 51% growth last year. Among the biggest win­ners this year were, un­sur­pris­ing­ly, firms work­ing on Covid-19 vac­cines: Mod­er­na, CanSi­no and BioN­Tech saw a col­lec­tive 508% in­crease.

Look­ing ahead to 2021, the folks at SVB don’t think the in­dus­try can quite keep up with the record-break­ing pace from 2020. But they still project a sol­id year like­ly to be in line with 2019’s $10.7 bil­lion fundrais­ing to­tal, with strong in­vest­ment pro­ject­ed to con­tin­ue both in Se­ries A and suc­ceed­ing rounds as well as a po­ten­tial 50 to 60 IPOs.

Da­ta Lit­er­a­cy: The Foun­da­tion for Mod­ern Tri­al Ex­e­cu­tion

In 2016, the International Council for Harmonisation (ICH) updated their “Guidelines for Good Clinical Practice.” One key shift was a mandate to implement a risk-based quality management system throughout all stages of a clinical trial, and to take a systematic, prioritized, risk-based approach to clinical trial monitoring—on-site monitoring, remote monitoring, or any combination thereof.

Mer­ck scraps Covid-19 vac­cine pro­grams af­ter they fail to mea­sure up on ef­fi­ca­cy in an­oth­er ma­jor set­back in the glob­al fight

After turning up late to the vaccine development game in the global fight against Covid-19, Merck is now making a quick exit.

The pharma giant is reporting this morning that it’s decided to drop development of 2 vaccines — V590 and V591 — after taking a look at Phase I data that simply don’t measure up to either the natural immune response seen in people exposed to the virus or the vaccines already on or near the market.

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IPO track­er: 2021 gets start­ed with a flur­ry of new of­fer­ings

A global pandemic couldn’t slow down what turned out to be a record year for biotech IPOs. With the calendar turning toward 2021, the Endpoints News team is prepped to track each new filing this year, and the outcome. We’re off to another hot start at least.

Below, you’ll find the companies that have filed to go public, in addition to those that have already priced. Through the first two business weeks of January, there have already been 9 biotechs that have filed or priced, and the number is only expected to grow. We’ll keep the tracker updated as it does.

Matt Gline (L) and Vivek Ramaswamy

Scoop: Vivek Ra­maswamy is hand­ing the CEO job to a top lieu­tenant at Roivant — but he’s not ex­act­ly leav­ing the biotech scene

Over the past 7 years since founding Roivant, Vivek Ramaswamy has been a constant blur of biotech building motion.

He launched his first biotech with an Alzheimer’s drug he picked up cheap, and watched the experiment implode in one of the highest profile pivotal disasters seen in the last decade. But it didn’t slow the 30-something exec down; if anything, he hit the accelerator. Ramaswamy blazed global paths and went on to raise billions to spur the creation of a large lineup of little Vants promising big things at a fast pace. He sold off a section of the Vant brigade to Sumitomo Dainippon for $3 billion. And more recently the relentless dealmaker has been building a computational discovery arm to add an AI-driven approach to kicking up new programs and companies, supplementing the in-licensing drive while pursuing advances that have created more than 700 jobs at Roivant, with $2 billion in reserves.

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Can strug­gling Iterum turn the cor­ner to an an­tibi­ot­ic suc­cess sto­ry? They will know in six months

More than five years after Corey Fishman and Michael Dunne dusted sulopenem off Pfizer’s shelves — the second castoff antibiotic they’ve brought out of the pharma giant — and founded Iterum Therapeutics around that single drug, they have lined up a quick shot at approval with priority review from the FDA.

The decision, six months from now, will mark a make-or-break moment for a struggling biotech that has just enough cash to keep the lights on until the third quarter.

Bahija Jallal, Immunocore

Buried in Im­muno­core's IPO fil­ings? A kick­back scheme from a now for­mer em­ploy­ee

Immunocore spent much of 2019 dealing with the fallout of the Neil Woodford scandal, as the former star investor’s fall crashed the biotech’s valuation out of unicorn range. Now it turns out that the company spent 2020 dealing with another internal scandal.

The longtime UK biotech darling disclosed in their IPO filing last week that they had fallen victim to an alleged kickback scheme involving one of their employees. After a whistleblower came forward, they said in their F-1, they spent the summer and spring investigating, finding fraud on the part of an employee and two outside vendors.

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO (Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

Covid-19 roundup: Mod­er­na dou­bles down on Covid-19 with new boost­er tri­als; Aus­tralia plans do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion of As­traZeneca vac­cine amid dis­tri­b­u­tion lag

As Merck bows out of the global race to develop vaccines for Covid-19, Moderna is doubling down to make sure they can quell new variants that have recently emerged and quickly spread.

The Cambridge, MA-based biotech put out word on Monday that in vivo studies indicate their mRNA vaccine works well enough against two strains first detected in the UK and South Africa. But with a six-fold reduction in neutralizing titers observed against the latter strain, the company is launching a new study of a booster version to make sure it can do the job.

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Jean-Christophe-Hyvert, Lonza

Lon­za look­ing to build on 'd­if­fer­en­ti­at­ed ad­van­tage' in Covid-19, CD­MO mar­ket­place in 2021

It’s not new for Lonza, the Swiss CDMO nearing its quasquicentennial anniversary, to be in the upper echelon of the biotech manufacturing industry.

But 2020 — as it was for many CDMOs — was a special year even by Lonza’s standards. The company inked a deal to produce 1 billion worldwide doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine and tapped pharma vet Pierre-Alain Ruffieux to lead its operations, moves which have allowed Lonza to make a myriad of other deals that will continue to ramp up its global production capacity.

News brief­ing: Jef­frey Lei­den to chair Tmu­ni­ty board of di­rec­tors; Op­di­vo wins new ap­proval in ad­vanced RCC

Longtime Vertex CEO Jeffrey Leiden is taking on a new role.

Leiden has been appointed chairman of Tmunity’s board of directors, the company announced Monday. The move comes about a year and a half after Leiden announced he’d be stepping down from his position at Vertex.

Vertex saw immense growth under Leiden, leading the company from its exit out of hepatitis C, when cures were moving in, and into cystic fibrosis. The company’s cystic fibrosis triple combo therapy Trikafta is already its best-seller, reaching the distinction just six weeks after launch and recording the strongest first quarter of sales for any drug, per some estimates.