Biotech's 'sug­ar high' led to a cor­rec­tion, but win­ter dol­drums could make way for a turn­around sto­ry this fall

Illustration: Assistant editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

In drug development, the running joke is that you can conduct well-controlled experiments, with a placebo arm and a study drug cohort.

“You can’t do that in finance,” as Karuna Therapeutics CFO Troy Ignelzi says.

As the clock struck 2022, that became glaringly obvious to an entire industry.

The massive tailwinds that fed the sails of hundreds of biotechs during the first 18 months of the Covid-19 pandemic ended up stalling around the beginning of 2022, causing dozens of public and private drug developers alike to enact layoffs, prune their pipelines, shutter and search for alternatives. The Covid impact — escalating the industry’s mission to bring new treatments and vaccines to the world in record time — led to a “sugar high,” says Arda Ural, EY’s Americas market leader for life sciences.

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