Last week, from January 12 to 15, I had the privilege of attending the 33rd J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. The conference was packed with side meetings, speaker programs and networking events focused on the major changes in the healthcare industry.
This year, based on product launches and pipelines, I detected a new sense of confidence among participants, with common themes around strong science, patient outcomes and industry/cross-industry collaborations. Participants also seemed to recognize the need for change to enable organizations to face increasing reimbursement demands, regulatory oversight, consumer expectations and substitution choices.
Technology and data were central to a number of new opportunities:
23andMe launched their Accelerated Research service, leveraging genomic data to perform early stage hypothesis validation in silica.
David Epstein from Novartis explained the Qualcomm-Novartis decision to establish a $100 million venture fund for startups developing “beyond the pill” technologies.
Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson & Johnson, referenced 3-D printing, sensor technology, micro-electronics and optics bringing real-time access to biometric data, diagnostics and drug delivery. He also discussed the Cloud and the explosion of wearable devices, which are enabling personalized solutions for better health outcomes.
The conference is traditionally marked by the announcement of significant deals and this year’s event was no exception:
Shire agreed to buy NPS Pharmaceuticals Inc. for approximately $5.2 billion.
Biogen Idec Inc. will purchase British biotech Convergence Pharmaceuticals for as much as $675 million.
In an approximately $1.2 billion deal, Roche agreed to acquire a majority stake in cancer diagnostic maker Foundation Medicine. The companies entered into a series of commercial arrangements in which Foundation’s tumor analysis and cancer genetics capabilities will be incorporated into Roche’s clinical development platform.
Pfizer announced an Omics-based data collaboration with direct-to-consumer genetics provider 23andMe to analyze the genetic roots of lupus.
23andMe and Genentech announced a similar genetic analysis arrangement earlier this month, which will include the whole genome sequencing of Parkinson’s patients in 23andMe’s user base.
As usual, this was a wonderful event, providing private and public biotechnology and life sciences companies a unique opportunity to present to and meet with investors and pharmaceutical executives from around the world.