“We’ve never seen anything like this before.”

June 10, 2020
It’s Day 3 of BIO Digital. In today's news, we’re digging into BIO’s new report on emerging therapeutic investment, and specifically what it means for COVID, as well as taking a closer look at what Dr. Fauci said about COVID-19's impact on African Americans and what we…

It’s Day 3 of BIO Digital. In today's news, we’re digging into BIO’s new report on emerging therapeutic investment, and specifically what it means for COVID, as well as taking a closer look at what Dr. Fauci said about COVID-19's impact on African Americans and what we can do about it. Here are around 900 words, just under 5 minutes.

P.S. Can’t get enough Dr. Fauci? Join the fan club. 

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What we’re watching today: FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn headlines the day (6:30 PM ET/3:30 PM PT). Meanwhile, Merck’s sponsoring a session on global patient advocacy in the COVID era (1 PM ET/10 AM PT), and we have fireside chats with execs from Johnson & Johnson (2 PM ET/11 AM PT) and Pfizer (4 PM ET/1 PM PT). We’re also taking a look at the Johnson & Johnson panel on how the pandemic has impacted the global psyche (4 PM ET/1 PM PT).

Stay tuned to the BIO Digital Live Blog for our round-the-clock coverage of news and highlights, and if you’re registered, head to the BIO Digital Hubb to watch them live.

"We’ve never seen anything like this before."

Yesterday, BIO’s Industry Analysis Team released a new report on emerging therapeutic company investment, and notably, investment in COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines.

The report, Emerging Therapeutic Company Investment and Deal Trends, looks at investment trends, R&D-stage out-licensing, and acquisitions for 2010-2019, as well as what’s happened since COVID-19.

It’s been a wild ride for the industry market since 2009, said BIO’s VP of Industry Analysis Dave Thomas. 

While 2019 was a record year for dollars, with 34 companies acquired, 2020 is likely to be a different story, with just 10 acquisitions in the first half of the year.

But the COVID-19 pipeline is strong, with 550 drug programs launched in 20 weeks

The United States has over 50% of drug programs, with 280, followed by China (39) and Switzerland (26). Of these, 60% are in the pre-clinical/discovery phase—basically, a press release—while around 40% (216) have clinical-stage compounds.

While most therapeutics (93%) and antivirals/antibodies (80%) are repurposed, just 3% of vaccines are.

Dave’s Details: “This is an unprecedented response by the industry. We’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s the companies driving it; the academic institutions that are developing these are under 10%...In terms of the number of shots on goal, this bodes very well…for success in getting something to market.” – Dave Thomas, BIO VP of Industry Analysis


“If ever there was a disease that has disproportionately in a negative way impacted the African American population, it’s COVID.”

By now, you’ve seen the big headlines coming out of yesterday’s fireside chat with NIH’s Dr. Anthony Fauci. Today, we want to take a closer look at what he said about COVID-19’s effect on African Americans, and more broadly, health disparities in the United States.

The coronavirus pandemic “shines a very bright light on something we’ve known for a very long time—and that is the health disparities of many diseases when it comes to minorities in general, and the African American population in particular,” said Dr. Fauci during BIO Digital

Black Americans are “getting hit with a double whammy” when it comes to COVID-19: the social determinants of health, as well as comorbidities that lead to higher risk of serious complications and death, he explained. 

What do we do about it? “We have to make sure the resources for early identification, isolation, and contact tracing are focused and concentrated in those areas, those cities, those regions where you have a higher density of African Americans,” he continued. 

And in the long term, we need to eliminate these disparities when it comes to social determinants of health and access to care. 

We’ll be talking more about race and biotech tomorrow. On June 11, BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath will lead a discussion with Cerevel’s Dr. Tony Coles, Global Blood Therapeutics’ Dr. Ted Love, and BIO Chair Dr. Jeremy M. Levin on this topic as well as how we can advance diversity in clinical trials and the industry more broadly. (You can watch here or follow along on the BIO Digital Live Blog.)

We also want to give a shoutout to our sister organization, Georgia Bio, for taking on this issue. President and CEO Maria Thacker-Goethe announced a new multi-sector alliance in the Atlanta region to bring COVID-19 testing to underserved communities. We’re proud of everything our members are doing to combat systemic racism in the health sector and ensure equity in access to care and new technology.


More Health Care News: 

Biopharma Dive: Drug regulators in agreement on coronavirus vaccine trials, FDA official says
“'Because it's such a bad pandemic, for the vaccines that come down the line we're going to be looking at clinical endpoints, and I don't think we're going to be arguing with the EMA over whether it is this assay or that immunoassay,'" said Marks, speaking at a virtual meeting held by the industry trade group BIO.” 

Nature: Thousands of scientists worldwide to go on strike for Black lives
“Academics and some scientific organizations will stop research activities on 10 June to reflect and take action on systemic inequalities in science.”

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Wednesday: Not much on the public agenda today. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The Senate is in session. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on police brutality, with George Floyd’s brother set to testify. Also worth noting, yesterday, House Oversight’s Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee held a hearing on antibody testing, during which Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Il) urged FDA to conclude its review of 200-some tests, according to POLITICO Pulse.

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