Emerging companies dominate new therapies

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Emerging small to mid-size biopharmaceutical companies are dominating biomedical innovation, according to a new report from IQIVIA.

The report, 'Emerging Biopharma's Contribution to Innovation', has identified the growing footprint of smaller and emerging biopharmaceutical companies and their increasing contribution to innovation.

According to the report, there are 3,212 emerging biopharma companies (EBP) globally. IQIVIA defines an EBP as a company with an annual R&D spend under US$200 million or less than US$500 million in global revenue.

The report defines cell, gene and nucleotide therapies as Next-Generation Biotherapeutics (NGB). They currently make up less than 10 per cent of the total late-stage R&D pipelines but have more than doubled in number over the past three years.

The IQIVIA report showed that 269 gene, cell and nucleotide therapies were in the late stage pipeline development at the end of 2018, up from 182 in 2017 - a 30 per cent increase in just one year.

Of the 269, 92 per cent belong to EBP companies - large global biopharmaceutical companies are responsible for less than 10 per cent of gene, cell and nucleotide therapies in late-stage development.

Within the top 30 EBP companies, there are four companies with gene technologies - Ligand Pharmaceuticals, Intrexon, CRISPR Therapeutics and Precision Biosciences, four companies with nucleic acid therapies and six with emerging antibodies or immunotherapies.

These companies have pioneered the dozens of approaches to gene and cell therapy currently in development while retaining control of their technologies.

Yet many of these EBP companies have never commercialised a therapy and have no commercial or actual presence in Australia.

The NGB companies could seek larger commercial partnerships with global companies to market their products but this is yet to emerge. In the absence of these partnerships, small markets like Australia may struggle to access these therapies.

Dr Amanda Ruth