Press release

Biotech industry has “implementation gap” around demonstrating the value of products under development

Chicago, 23 April 2013

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The global biotechnology industry continued on a path of recovery in 2012 as public companies in the sector achieved top- and bottom-line growth for the third straight year even while R&D spending remained under pressure at many companies. However, new survey research in EY’s 27th annual biotechnology industry report Beyond borders: matters of evidence indicates an “implementation gap” at most small- to mid-size companies when it comes to gathering evidence to demonstrate the value of products under development. This gap has implications on the future ability of these companies to raise capital, obtain attractive deal valuations and be successfully reimbursed for their drugs upon approval. 


EY’s annual biotech report shows strong performance by major players but a challenging environment for the rest of the industry and an urgent need to focus on demonstrating value


“In today’s increasingly outcomes-focused, evidence-driven health care systems, biotech companies cannot afford to pursue an R&D strategy that only focuses on whether or not their drug works. They need to also understand whether it will be valued and reimbursed by payers,” said Glen Giovannetti, EY’s Global Life Sciences Leader. “If you wait to address questions of value only as a product launch approaches, you do so at your own peril because pharma alliance partners — still the most viable exit option for most biotechs — now consider such data to be key drivers of their product and company valuations.” 

Key financial results highlighted in the report include:

  • Revenue ticks ups: Companies in the industry’s established biotech centers (the US, Europe, Canada and Australia) achieved revenues of US$89.8 billion in 2012, an 8% increase from 2011.   
  • R&D growth slows: R&D spending by public companies grew by 5%, well below the 9% growth rate achieved in 2011. While expenditures remained strong at commercial leaders, pre-commercial entities substantially reduced R&D spending.  
  • Net income reaches new high: R&D cutbacks combined with solid revenue growth resulted in a record high in net income of US$5.2 billion, a US$1.4 billion increase from the previous year.
  • The “new normal” funding environment continues: Biotech companies in North America and Europe raised US$28.2 billion in 2012, a drop from the US$33.3 billion raised in 2011. This decrease was driven by a reduction in debt funding, which fell by almost a third. The IPO market remained tepid, with aggregate proceeds of only US$805 million, down from US$857 million in 2011. “Innovation capital” — defined as the amount of capital raised by companies with less than US$500 million in revenues — remained virtually unchanged between 2011 and 2012 increasing only from US$15.2 billion to US$15.3 billion.
  • Venture capital remains resilient: Venture funding across North America and Europe declined 5% to US$5.4 billion in 2012, a much slower decline than was expected given the fundraising challenges encountered by many venture firms in recent years.   
  • M&A picks up: The total value of mergers and acquisitions involving European or US biotechs equaled US$27.4 billion, an increase of 9% from 2011 (when setting aside the two megamergers in 2011 in excess of US$10 billion) and the highest non-megadeal total since 2008. 

Matters of evidence: an implementation gap

To explore how companies are adapting to the global shift to evidence-based health care, EY surveyed US and European biotech executives from 62 companies with revenues below US$500 million. The results indicate that companies focus on efficiency initiatives with far greater frequency than on measures to collect evidence to demonstrate product value. 

Key findings include:

  • Near-consensus on strategic importance: 94% or more of the survey respondents agreed that it is “important” or “very important” for biotech companies to have a strategic focus on matters of efficiency and matters of evidence.
  • Implementation gap on matters of evidence: However, among respondents who considered evidence measures to be “important” or “very important”, most companies indicated that they are unlikely to undertake specific evidence-focused initiatives. Only 11% of respondents have added payer/reimbursement expertise to their management teams, just 13% have added such expertise to their clinical development teams and a scant 4% have added such expertise to their boards of directors. There was no such implementation gap around initiatives focused on matters of efficiency.
  • New approaches needed: To succeed, companies will need to revisit their approaches to R&D. It will be imperative to monitor evolving standards of care. A model EY calls the “value pathway” can help identify the biggest unmet needs or failures that payers will be most focused on. Companies will then need to align their offerings to fill these “value leakages” and design clinical trials to develop evidence that is compelling for payers (e.g., through head-to-head or adaptive trials).

“It’s time for biotech firms to debunk any myths that may be holding them back,” concludes Glen Giovannetti. “The shift to evidence is happening faster than many might have expected, and it affects companies regardless of their size, maturity or disease focus. Many evidence-focused initiatives — engaging stakeholders earlier on issues of value and reimbursement, rethinking trial design or exploring pre-competitive data collaborations — don’t cost much and could even avoid of the expense of additional studies. The question is not whether you can afford to do this, but whether you can afford not to.”

Notes to editors

Key regional findings:

United States

  • Revenues of publicly traded biotechs were US$63.7 billion, an 8% increase but down from the 12% growth rate in 2011.
  • R&D spending increased by 7% in 2012, slightly below the 9% growth rate in 2011.
  • Net income increased 34% from US$3.3 billion in 2011 to US$4.5 billion in 2012.
  • M&As involving US-based biotech companies increased 5% in 2012 to US$23.8 billion (after adjusting for the two megadeals in 2011).
  • Total US funding reached US$23.3 billion in 2012, the second-highest total over the past decade, after 2011, when the industry raised US$29.7 billion. When excluding debt financing, capital raised increased by 16% on a year-to-year basis.

Europe

  • Revenues of European public biotechs grew 8% in 2012 to US$20.4 billion.
  • R&D expense decreased by 1% in 2012, an indication that many European firms remain in cost-cutting mode. 
  • The European biotech industry reached aggregate profitability for the first time in its history in 2012, a largely symbolic milestone given that it was reached in part due to widespread cost-cutting.
  • Capital raised increased by 44% to $US4.2 billion, the highest total since before the global financial crisis. However, this increase was driven entirely by debt financing, which increased by 392% while every other category was down.
  • The value of M&As declined 28% to US$2.9 billion, with the number of deals with announced terms falling to 13 – the lowest level since at least 2005. 

About EY’s Global Life Sciences Center
EY’s Global Life Sciences Center brings together a worldwide team of professionals to help life sciences companies address their challenges at every stage of development. From the emerging biotech or medtech firm to the well-established, global pharmaceutical company, our industry teams bring deep experience in providing assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The Center works to anticipate market trends, identify implications and develop points of view on relevant industry issues. Whether it’s forming innovative alliances, improving operations, new regulations or exploring new markets, we can give you a clear perspective on how to drive value in an increasingly complex, competitive and risk-driven environment. It’s how EY makes a difference.

For more information, please visit www.ey.com/lifesciences or email global.lifesciences@ey.com

About EY
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 167,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

EY refers to the global organization of member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit www.ey.com.

This news release has been issued by EYGM Limited, a member of the global EY organization that also does not provide any services to clients.

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