Follow-on Biologics and Patent Reform: Will They Discourage Venture Capital Investment in the Biotechnology Industry?

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According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, venture capital (VC) investing hit a five-year high in 2006, with $25.5 billion invested. Notably, the Life Sciences sector, which includes biotechnology and medical devices, accounted for 28% of VC money invested, the largest investment sector in 2006.

As Life Sciences venture capital investing has risen, the biotechnology industry has become increasingly dependent on such funding. This is particularly true for start-up companies that cannot rely on revenue from marketed biologics to fund their research and development pipeline. To cover the nearly $1 billion capital investment required to bring a biologic drug to market (from discovery through clinical trials and FDA approval), early-stage companies rely on VC investing. Investing in emerging companies, however, is risky for a venture capitalist: only 1 in 10 drugs discovered actually makes it to market, and despite the more than $50 billion spent on biotech drugs in 2006, the great majority of early-stage companies never reach the point of net profitability.

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