Things I Expect To Hear At #JPM15

Posted January 9th, 2015 in Pharma industry

Are you ready for the circus?  Next week’s JPM Healthcare Conference is getting ready to kickoff, and much of the healthcare industry is feverishly preparing their materials for the mayhem.

Given the biopharma industry pipeline’s exciting clinical progress, a record-breaking year of FDA approvals, a buoyant stock market, and 2014’s chart-topping biotech IPO volume – it’s bound to be a positive and optimistic kickoff to year.

Last year on a whim I attempted to kick things off with some humor, and shared the “Top 10 Little White Lies” told annually at JPM.  Much of that list still rings true this year.

Reflecting on this year’s climate though, and taking a page from last year’s playbook, I thought I’d share a list of the things I expect to hear at JPM walking around the halls, at the cocktail parties, and in our meetings…

  • “I’ve always thought autologous engineered cell therapy was a good investment”.  Likely heard from glowing buyside investors sitting around $JUNO and $KITE talks on CAR-Ts.
  •  “We’ve established definitive clinical proof of concept in You’ve-Never-Heard-Of-This-Orphan-Disease” and are heading towards registration trials.  With 7000 orphan diseases, this statement just may be true no matter how many times you hear it.
  • “Their beta-amyloid approach is different than everyone else’s.”  Spoken by excited neuroscience analysts explaining their bullishness on the latest Alzheimer’s program, exhibiting symptoms of suffering from hope over experience.
  • “If only we could have done that tax inversion deal…”  Maybe we won’t hear this one, but I’m sure there are a lot of CFOs and buyside investors daydreaming about it
  • “We’re going to be the Agios-of-X…”. Conveyed during private biotech pitches as a “comparable” future trajectory, like the Uber-of-X theme in tech.  Maybe true, maybe not – but $AGIO is a pretty special 1-in-500 type of company.
  • “We are expanding our R&D in Boston in 2015…”  Spoken by Pharma executives as evidence of their R&D commitment, amidst further site closures and layoffs elsewhere. In time, even Boston’s Watertown suburbs may actually become cool places to innovate.
  • “Can you believe they raised $450M?”  Likely said with mix of amazement, respect, and a large dollop of envy.
  • “We’ve been long on gene therapy for years…”  Really? It’s worth congratulating and thanking $BLUE and others for bringing gene therapy back in vogue, but its been a long road, and many miles to go before we sleep.
  • “We’re having some great discussions with the payor community…” Especially after the recent HCV deals. But isn’t this sort of like saying you are having great tax discussions with the IRS?
  • “The IPO window is still wide open in 2015…” Heard from every banker out in San Francisco next week.  Hard to predict these things (I was wrong in Jan 2014…)
  • “Really, this isn’t a bubble…”  Heard from everybody around the cocktail party punchbowl.  “It’s all about data and fundamentals today…”  Could this be true?  Ah yes, this time is different.  Really different.

Have fun at #JPM15.

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