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Year in Pharma 2019

It was a bustling year for the drug industry, filled with acquisitions, substantial investment in promising technologies, and a steady stream of new drug approvals.

Pharma behemoths merged, forming even bigger firms with heft in therapeutic areas like oncology and immunology, but they also got rid of businesses that fell outside their core mandate of discovering new medicines. A number of midsize cancer- and gene therapy–focused biotech firms were gobbled up, and more are likely to be absorbed into larger companies in 2020.

If last year’s crop of new drugs was remarkable for ushering in technologies like RNA interference, the 2019 approvals were notable for new medicines that treat long-neglected or underserved diseases. In the US, for example, the new-drugs list includes treatments for tuberculosis and postpartum depression; in Europe, regulators approved an Ebola vaccine.

Meanwhile, the industry continued its shift beyond the traditional paradigm of small molecules and antibodies. Investors poured money into promising new modalities, with significant cash going to next-generation cell therapies, the next wave of gene editors, and complex molecules called protein degraders.




UC Berkeley



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