Over the past 5 years, the life sciences industry throughout Canada, and especially in Québec, has been extensively challenged by a lack of available investment capital. Many pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies were forced to make headcount reductions, liquidate assets, and, ultimately, close operations. In 2009, the majority of Canadian biotech companies had less than a year’s worth of money for operating expenses. According to Ernst & Young, the situation improved slightly in 2010, with an increase in total financing. However, the amounts raised are still the second lowestsince 2000, with the majority of funds allocated to only a small number of companies. Québec lost its relative position as one of Canada’s leading life science clusters. Vancouver now leads the way in both venture capital and total financing, surpassing traditional leaders Montréal and Toronto.
In addition, the Canadian biotechnology sector has also seen several high-profile companies report disappointing news this year. In March, Vancouver-based Cardiome announced that Merck had pulled out of a cardiovascular development deal, and in April, Québec-based Æterna Zentaris reported poor results from a Phase 3 oncology study. At the same time, there are bright spots within the difficult market. Immunovaccine, headquartered in Nova Scotia, has received significant funding from a variety of sources, including private investments and government funding. Immunovaccine is developing several vaccine candidates, including those to treat cancer and addiction.
Canadian contract research organizations have also been affected by the fickle biotech market within Canada. Capitalizing on strong relationships built over years with clients and partners has helped Cato Research continue to provide excellent services and weather the industry’s roller coaster ride.
On 03 May 2012, Cato Research Canada will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a celebratory wine tasting. You are invited to join us and other industry representatives to talk about the changing climate for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in Canada.
Anticipated attendees at this event include Dr. Bernard Coupal, Officer of the National Order of Québec and President of T2C2 Capital; Alan DeSousa, Borough Mayor of St. Laurent; Jean-Marc Fournier, Deputy of St. Laurent and Québec Minister of Justice; and Dr. Allen Cato and Ms. Lynda Sutton, cofounders of Cato Research.
This is a post by Julie Bédard, M.Sc., C.C.R.A., Vice President, Clinical Trial Operations North America and Hafida Lounis, Ph.D., M.B.A., Business Development Associate at Cato Research Canada.
- Senator Hagan’s TREAT for Small Biotech (ask-cato.com)
- The CED Life Science Conference and Biotech’s Yellow Brick Road (ask-cato.com)
- After all the talk, where are we with biosimilars? (ask-cato.com)