JPM Offers First Glimpse of What 2024 Might Portend for Biopharma Sector

Pictured: Bay Bridge and San Francisco sky

Pictured: Bay Bridge and San Francisco sky

After a topsy-turvy 2023, thousands of industry stakeholders will attend next week’s J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco to answer a fundamental question: What will this year look like?

Pictured: Bay Bridge and San Francisco skyline at night/iStock, Jim Brown

It was a short week due to the New Year’s Day holiday on Monday, yet with some important news. Still, I find myself—like most in the biopharma industry—anticipating next week’s 42nd Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, where thousands of industry stakeholders will descend on the city’s financial district for jam-packed meetings, presentations and networking events as the sector tries to answer a fundamental question: What kind of year will 2024 be for biopharma?

The annual JPM event will set the stage for 2024, as it has in previous years. We’re only days into the new year, but there are already signs of what might be on the horizon, with activity at the end of 2023, in particular, serving as a good indication of where we’re headed.

Mergers and acquisitions returned to life last year. And if last month is any indication, there are a lot more deals in store. The biopharma industry ended 2023 with a flurry of M&A activity from AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb and Roche in the oncology, autoimmune, radiopharmaceuticals and point-of-care diagnostics spaces.

Not surprisingly, a December 2023 report by professional services firm PwC predicted that there will likely be an increase in M&A opportunities in the areas of oncology, immunology, weight loss and cardiovascular diseases, with dealmaking value and volume potentially reaching pre-pandemic levels.

Initial public offerings are another story, however. 2023 was a horrible year for the biotech industry, which saw the fewest companies going public in a decade. Still, IPO activity seemed to pick up at the end of the year. Carmot Therapeutics in November filed for an IPO in an effort take advantage of the hot GLP-1 obesity market. While IPOs were anemic in 2023, the new year has already recorded the first IPO plan—from California-based CG Oncology.

Unfortunately, layoffs continue to plague the sector in 2024. This week, we saw a deluge of companies announcing reductions in their respective workforces. There was good news this week on the funding front. Goldman Sachs Asset Management announced Wednesday that it has closed its first life sciences fund with $650 million in equity commitments from investors.

So, get ready for JPM next week. There will be no shortage of analysts and industry insiders willing to get out their crystal balls with predictions for M&A, IPOs, layoffs and funding in 2024, as well as the increasingly contentious regulatory front in this election year.

BioSpace is gearing up to cover the J.P. Morgan conference on the ground, January 8–10, providing updates throughout the day on the latest news and industry developments. Please stay tuned to our website tracker and social media postings. See you all in San Francisco!

Greg Slabodkin is the News Editor at BioSpace. You can reach him at greg.slabodkin@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.    

Correction (Jan. 5): The image caption was updated to correctly reflect that the Bay Bridge is pictured, not the Golden Gate Bridge. BioSpace regrets the error.

Greg Slabodkin is the News Editor at BioSpace. You can reach him at  greg.slabodkin@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.
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