2024-01-11| JPM 2024Trending

JPM 2024: AZ, Ginkgo and Moderna Provides Business Updates, Illustrating Optimistic Prospects

by Richard Chau
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JP Morgan’s 42nd annual Healthcare Conference (JPM 2024) in San Francisco brings all eyes to the biotech industry during which many biopharma companies provide updates on their strategic, financial, and development plans to reassure their current investors and attract new ones. Leaders of biotech giants including AstraZeneca (AZ), Ginkgo Bioworks, and Moderna also delivered their ambitions for future business development in their respective presentations.

Related article: JPM 2024: Pfizer’s Strategic Moves in the Obesity Drug Market and BioNTech’s Oncology Pipeline Expansion

AZ Eyes for “Industry-leading Growth” through 2030 in Multiple Disease Areas

During a presentation at JPM 2024, Aradhana Sarin, Chief Financial Officer at AstraZeneca (AZ) expressed hope for a robust future, as the company navigates over 120 clinical trials in its late-stage pipeline across five major disease areas: oncology, cardiovascular disease, renal and metabolism (CVRM), respiratory and immunology (R&I), vaccines and immunotherapies (V&I), and rare diseases.

As the pharma giant confidently approaches 2024, it sets its sights on a more distant target – 2030. Thanks to its diversified portfolio, AZ predicts that there will be 15 new molecular entities (NMEs) launched by that year. Besides, according to Sarin, AZ aims to achieve “industry-leading growth” through 2030 and secure a position among the top three players in each of the above-mentioned areas. 

In the short term, AstraZeneca is targeting double-digit growth rates, on average, from 2021 to 2025. Sarin expressed confidence that the company is “very much on track” to achieve this goal, emphasizing a positive trajectory for the coming years.

Moderna Expects “an Exciting Year” in JPM 2024

Moderna released impressive unaudited financial results for 2023, revealing product sales totaling approximately $6.7 billion. This substantial figure includes a notable increase in U.S. COVID-19 market share, rising from 37% in 2022 to 48% in 2023. Stéphane Bancel, CEO of the mRNA drugmaker, emphasized the company’s achievements in resizing its COVID-19 manufacturing footprint for an endemic setting. Bancel stressed that “2024 is going to be an exciting year for the Company” with 45 therapeutic and vaccine programs on hand as of the end of 2023.

According to Jamey Mock, Chief Financial Officer of Moderna, the company aims to sustain its momentum with an expected $4 billion in product sales for 2024, primarily driven by the long-awaited launch of its RSV vaccine and continued sales of its COVID-19 vaccines. The company envisions a return to organic sales growth in 2025 and aims to achieve financial breakeven in 2026 through strategic product launches and disciplined investment.

Furthermore, Moderna unveiled significant progress in its late-stage pipeline, with nine programs set to reach key milestones in 2024 and 2025. Among these milestones, the regulatory approval process for the RSV vaccine for adults aged 60 and older (mRNA-1345) is anticipated to commence in H1 of 2024. 

Additionally, mRNA-1283, the company’s next-generation COVID-19 vaccine that can be stored at regular refrigerator temperature (2-5°C), is currently in a pivotal Phase 3 clinical study (NCT05815498), with data also expected in H1 of 2024. Moderna’s commitment to mRNA innovation is further evident in its ongoing endeavors to develop a seasonal flu vaccine (mRNA-1010) and a combination vaccine against seasonal flu and COVID-19 (mRNA-1083), with data from the latter’s Phase 3 trial expected in 2024.

Related article: Vaccine Development Has No Limits, the Application Direction of mRNA After the Nobel Prize 

Ginkgo’s CEO Presents Promising Outlook Following the Strong-performing 2023

Ginkgo Bioworks made several big moves in the biopharma sector in 2023. Notable examples include a five-year strategic cloud and AI partnership with Google Cloud, a $331 million collaboration with Pfizer for RNA-based drug discovery, and a $406 million partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim that aims to propel drug discovery for hard-to-treat diseases. These deals provided the Boston-based biotech company with more than $1.2 billion in upfront research payments, research fees, as well as payments for development and commercial milestones.

Related article: Ginkgo Bioworks and Pfizer Forge $331 Million Collaboration for RNA-Based Drug Discovery

In the business updates delivered in JPM 2024, CEO Jason Kelly expressed satisfaction with the strong revenue and program growth in 2023 as well as his confidence about the company’s continued expansion in 2024. Financially, Ginkgo reported a significant improvement in operational efficiency, resulting in a cash reserve of nearly $950 million, providing a substantial multi-year runway. “Our strong balance sheet positions us well to take advantage of strategic opportunities while the market faces continued pressure,” said Kelly.

In particular, regarding the strategic AI pact with Google Cloud, Ginkgo is training a series of foundation and application-specific models incorporating Ginkgo’s proprietary metagenomics and assay-labeled training data as well as data from public repositories. In 2024, Ginkgo anticipates being able to bring together automated data generation at scale with AI models tailored to customer program areas as the foundation for future partnerships with pharma companies.

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