Wow, we made it.
It goes without saying: 2020 was not the year we expected. What started with our most successful JP Morgan Conference ever quickly spiraled into something else entirely – a year marked by pervasive uncertainty, which wreaked havoc across the globe and fundamentally altered the way we think about human interaction, the immense privilege of good health and the critical importance of science. On a personal level, this year also forced us out of our comfort zones, teaching us to be more resilient, more adaptable and more human; more open about the ups and downs of our daily lives, and more appreciative of the partnership and understanding of our friends, families and colleagues.
Biotech Industry Comes Through! 2020 also showed us the tremendous importance of our work and highlighted the crucial role of our entire industry. In a year marked by so many disappointments, biotech delivered – over and over and over again. Not only did our peers and colleagues develop, in record time, new vaccines and medicines to treat and prevent COVID-19, but progress continued across preclinical, clinical and commercial-stage pipelines more broadly. The needs of patients and families remained front and center and the results were, quite frankly, astounding. Across Stern IR clients alone, we saw new medicines approved in the U.S. and abroad for people living with cancer, inflammatory and liver diseases, as well as rare genetic diseases of obesity, dry eye disease and, of course, COVID-19 (Blueprint Medicines – here, here, here and here, Gilead – here, here, here, here, and here, Kala, MorphoSys, Rhythm).
Record Drug Approvals, Positive Data Readouts and Capital Raises. Despite the many challenges brought by the pandemic – and the potential for clinical trial and/or regulatory impacts that we all warned about in our forward-looking statements – our industry seems to have accomplished nearly everything it set out to achieve in 2020…and more.
Over the last twelve months, our clients alone saw 12 new drug approvals and 9 successful pivotal Phase 3 trials. Others advanced novel compounds into later-stages of development and pioneered new modalities of medicine, and those with long-standing products on the market (like Ironwood and Pacira) continued to promote their therapies effectively, nimbly switching to a virtual-only model with little operational hiccups. Oh, and our clients raised over $10 billion along the way.
Key Stern IR Client Milestones! While we couldn’t possibly highlight each corporate milestone, data readout or trial initiation, we did want to call out a selection from across our clients, in order to give you a sense of the incredible efforts that are ongoing and showcase why, exactly, we’re so proud to partner with all of you.
Beginning with our next wave of potential drug approvals: several Stern IR clients announced positive topline results from pivotal trials this year, enabling planned or already filed NDA and BLA submissions: ADC, argenx, Blueprint, Cara, Impel, Gamida Cell, Kala (already approved!), MyoKardia and Rhythm. Additionally, the FDA accepted ADC’s BLA for loncastuximab tesirine for r/r DLBCL and Chimerix’s NDA for brincidofovir as a medical countermeasure for smallpox, and the EMA validated DBV’s MAA for Viaskin Peanut.
Even more clients announced promising clinical or preclinical data for compounds in earlier stages of development, including: 4D Pharma, ADC, Akero, Allena, Allergy, Antibe, Arvinas, Ayala, Curis (here and here), CytomX, Dicerna, EIP Pharma, Evelo, Fate (here and here), Faron, Forma, Fulcrum, Istari, iTeos, Jounce, Mersana, Momenta, Noveome, Ohana, Passage, Poseida, Poxel, Precision, Sage, Scholar Rock, Scout, Sensei, Stealth, Syros and Xencor (here and here).
Additionally, many of our clients dosed the first patients in new clinical studies, laying the groundwork for upcoming readouts in 2021 and beyond. These studies span disease indications and stages of development, ranging from Phase 1 studies of new modalities to registration-enabling trials with more established approaches. Among them: Athira, Bicara, BioPath, Bolt, Cabaletta, Cognition, Enanta, Evelo, FirstWave, Goldfinch, Innate, Intellia, Istari, iTeos, Kuur, Lumos, Millendo, Oncoinvent (here and here), Pandion, SAB (here, here – as part of Operation Warp Speed and here), Shattuck Labs, and Tmunity.
Finally, several clients progressed earlier stage, preclinical programs, which are now advancing towards near-term clinical study starts: Akouos, Enanta (here and here), EyePoint, ImmunoPrecise, LogicBio, NorthStar, and Passage.
2020 Bull Market: We’ve written extensively about this, which was driven in large part by generalist enthusiasm around the sector and a growing conviction that COVID-19 will be solved not by politicians or masks and social distancing, but by rigorous science and innovation in biotechnology. With 2020 now in the rearview mirror, we can say with confidence that it was an absolutely record-breaking year: billions of dollars poured into the biotech sector; very large partnerships and acquisitions were inked; and our conception of what it means to “go public” was challenged with the emergence of the SPAC as a mainstream financing vehicle.
Stern IR clients were no exception. Altogether, as noted above our clients raised approximately $10 billion, across over 60 transactions, ranging from Series A financings to follow-ons:
- Private Financings: Akouos ($105M, Series B), Atea ($215M, Series D), Athira ($85M, Series B), Bicara (Undisclosed, Seed), Bolt ($93.5M, Series C), C4 ($170M, Series B and venture debt), Cedilla ($57M), Decibel ($82M, Series D), Goldfinch ($100M, Series B), iTeos ($125M, Series B), Nurix ($120M, Undisclosed), Oncoinvent (40M NOK, Undisclosed), Pandion ($80M, Series B), Poseida ($110M, Series D), SAB ($14M, Series B), Scorpion ($108M, Series A), Shattuck Labs ($118M, Series B) and XW ($40M, Series C).
- IPOs: ADC ($267M), Akouos ($244M), Atea ($345M), Athira ($204M), Ayala ($55M), C4 ($210M), iTeos ($201M), Forma ($319M), Pandion ($135M), Passage ($248M), Poseida ($224M), Schrodinger ($232M), and Shattuck Labs ($202M).
- SPACs: 4D Pharma.
- Follow-Ons: ADC ($204M), Akero ($216M), argenx ($863M), Arvinas ($400M), Axcella ($60M), Blueprint ($308M), Corbus ($46M), Curis $159M), Evelo ($45M), Fate ($201M), Forma ($276M), Gamida Cell ($69M and $65M), Intec ($6.5M), Intellia ($115M & $201M), Kala ($126M), Logic ($48M), Mersana ($175M), MyoKardia ($605M), Schrodinger ($347M), Scholar Rock ($230M), and Seres ($264M).
- Other Public Financings: Allena ($15M registered direct, $7M bought deal & $13M bought deal; $25M convertible debt), Curis ($30M stock purchase agreement & $18M registered direct), Fulcrum ($69M private placement), IMV ($25M private placement), Intec ($5M registered direct & $5M registered direct), Mersana ($65M ATM), MorphoSys (€345M convertible bond), Pacira ($350M convertible senior notes), Pharnext (€8M, private placement), Poxel ($19M private placement), Stealth ($20M private placement & $3M registered direct), and Syros ($91M private placement & $60M loan).
- Federal Grants: Cognition ($76M, NIA), SAB ($58M, BARDA).
Major Collaborations: Many Stern IR clients entered new collaborations to help further accelerate or expand their ongoing efforts. Among them: ADC/Overland, Allergy/Saiba AG and DeepVax, Arrakis/Roche, Blueprint/Roche; Cara/Vifor Pharma; Dicerna/Alnylam; ImmunoPrecise/Genmab; Jounce/Gilead; Precision/Eli Lilly; Sage/Biogen; Schrodinger/Bristol Myers Squibb and Systems Oncology/Bayer. Additionally, Xencor announced several partnerships (including some with SIR clients!): Aimmune, Atreca, Gilead, MD Anderson, MorphoSys/Incyte, and Vir.
Best M&A Year Ever! Finally, our clients were involved in some of the largest M&A transactions announced this year, including the acquisitions of BioSpecifics ($658M), Forty Seven ($4.9B), Momenta ($6.5B), MyoKardia ($13.1B) and Themis (undisclosed), as well as Gilead’s acquisition of Immunomedics ($21B), and several other noteworthy mergers: Lumos Pharma merged with NewLink Genetics; Neos Therapeutics merged with Aytu BioScience; and resTORbio merged with Adicet Bio. Additionally, Sensei acquired Alvaxa Biosciences, and Syros acquired a novel oral form of arsenic trioxide from Orsenix.
Dickens Has the Last Word. It really has been a year to remember. And, in many ways, it’s one whose tremendous complexity is impossible to put into words. At our holiday party, Lilian quoted Charles Dickens, whose Tale of Two Cities may have best captured our collective experience in 2020, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…”
As we look to 2021, may the best of this past year be the worst of what’s to come. We look forward to celebrating all of these accomplishments – and many more — together, in person, soon.