Acambis: Can Smallpox Sustain?
The UK's Acambis became one of a handful of European biotechs to post profits this year, boosted by a US government smallpox vaccine contract worth $428 million. The profitability label is a useful one these days: cautious investors find it easier to swallow R&D risk if accompanied by earnings. And Acambis' management has promised it can keep the company in the black, defying the skeptics. Near-term, it will leverage its smallpox franchise to secure further, and extended, government contracts. Beyond that, Acambis' pipeline of relatively low-risk products should start to come to fruition.
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More Funding Options for European biotech
The flotation of UK biotech Ark Therapeutics, likely followed closely by Switzerland's Basilea, suggest Europe's public markets are waking up. It's too early, as yet, to call the IPO window open, though. And the string of European hopefuls monitoring Ark's progress and hoping to follow in its wake will have to contend with investors who are far more discerning than during the last upturn. Late-stage products remain attractive, but there are few fixed rules.
Actelion: A Model for European Biotech
Actelion reached profitability in record time by focusing from the start on the development and commercial end of the business. It in-licensed an unusually late-stage pipeline made up of compounds its founders helped develop, and built its own global sales and marketing infrastructure to maximize the value of its projects. Now Actelion plans to leverage growing profits to go back and nurture earlier stage research-a top-down biotech-building model that may prove inspirational to others.
Delivering Profits at SkyePharma
SkyePharma fulfilled its profitability promise in 2002. Yet warnings of a revenue slip in the middle of 2003 have highlighted the group's reliance on the timing of uncertain milestones. But by building up its clinical and regulatory capabilities, increasing the proportion of its revenues derived from royalties, and leveraging a full pipeline which includes improved biologics, SkyePharma aims to increase its development control over its own and partners' programs and thereby maintain and grow its newfound profitability.