After a Volatile 2023, the Year Ahead if Primed for Biotech Innovation 

Updated on December 28, 2023

After years of upward trajectory, 2023 marked a year of fluctuation for biopharmaceutical companies. The industry has battled supply chain issues and inflation, while simultaneously still securing new. While not a simple year for anyone, one area of this industry that has encountered the most hurdles has been the oncology sector of the biopharmaceutical industry. We’ll expand on some of these hurdles the oncology sector has faced in particular and discuss how the industry has overcome some of the challenges, paving the way for continuous innovation. 

The tumultuous year for the biotech industry  

One of the biggest challenges the industry has faced this past year has been managing supply chain issues. While the supply chain has many different facets, the manufacturing side has had to battle high costs of drugs and the everchanging economy with inflation making things worse. According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, 112 drugs had increased their prices over the inflation rate of 3% in the month of July alone. Because of these high pricings, manufactures have been put under pressure to cut costs while still distributing useful and safe drugs. One of the larger manufactures in particular attempted to cut costs but by doing so violated quality assurance standards and received a warning letter from the FDA, being forced to halt operations and adding to the drug shortage. 

 At Abpro, we experienced how difficult managing this supply chain can be at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. During this time, many manufacturers were either short staffed or closed due to the restrictions in place, but we were persistent in moving the development of our monoclonal antibodies forward. While feeling extremely discouraged at times, we utilized all of our previously built relationships and managed to find a high-quality manufacturer to work with. 

Amongst the battles of supply chains and drug developments, many biotech companies are also facing a much different market than previous years and are struggling to receive necessary funding. In 2021, the biotech industry had a total of 104 companies go public, which can be accredited to the influx of cash many received during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now as these funds begin to dwindle, we have seen only 18 biotech companies go through this process in 2023. Despite the lower number of companies going public, the impact of these companies cannot be understated. The ones who were able to prevail this year show true signs of bringing promising treatments to patients in the near future. 

Despite market hardships, treatment is still needed 

In February of 2022, President Biden relaunched the Cancer Moonshot program which is aimed at preventing and reducing 4 million cancer deaths throughout the United States by 2047. Currently, the nation is improving cancer patient outcomes at a rate of 2.3% yet 2.7% is the rate needed to reach the program’s goal. The emphasis that we’re seeing for new cancer treatments on a national scale emphasizes the need for more accessible treatments to reach patients more quickly. 

Although many organizations across the industry have struggled over the course of the last year, cancer is not going away anytime soon, and we still need treatments. It was anticipated that 609,820 people will die of cancer and an estimated 2 million people will be diagnosed with the disease in the United States this year. While some deaths are unpreventable, many could be prevented with access to proper treatment but this year a cancer drug shortage loomed over the U.S. and made finding therapies a battle.  

According to a recent survey from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, 72% of the 29 cancer centers surveyed from across the country have reported a shortage of a widely used chemotherapy medication named carboplatin. An additional 59% reported experiencing a shortage of cisplatin, another chemotherapy drug. This shortage has left many doctors and patients scrambling to find an alternative therapy and some have even been forced to delay treatment – urging many biopharmaceutical companies to continue pushing for new innovations and treatments such as immunotherapies. 

The future is bright 

To help fill the gaps from the drug shortages, a total of 26 cancer treatments have received FDA approval from August 1, 2022, through July 31, 2023: 14 of these treatments are new to the market while the other 12 have been previously approved and have now received the okay for treating new types of cancer. Additionally, as the search for alternative treatment methods continues, by July 31, 2023, the FDA has approved a total of 6 CAR T-cell therapies and 11 immune checkpoint inhibitors. These immunotherapy methods utilize an individuals’ own immune system to fight the disease at hand and typically have lesser side effects than traditional chemotherapy and radiation. These advancements and filling the drug shortage gaps are a big part of the recent innovative push but a federal initiative has made a big impact too. 

Looking to 2024 

The 2047 Cancer Moonshot deadline less than 25 years away comes a pressing need for new drugs and innovation as we look ahead to 2024. This urgency is priming the market for groundbreaking technology and treatments such as immunotherapy and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). These therapies will be crucial in not only keeping patients healthy but also in filling the drug shortage gaps over the course of the next year. 

Throughout this year of economic hardships, we have also taken a closer look at what’s ahead and have even been forced to reevaluate our own financials to ensure we are able to deliver the best treatments to patients facing life-threatening diseases. After much examination, we anticipate a turning point as many organizations look to exit the market for refinancing opportunities. With many on the brink of fleeting, there opens up potential for newer organizations to make their impact on the industry. Having recognized this turn and the need for monoclonal antibodies, we are taking advantage of this opportunity and participating in a SPAC merger ourselves, expected to be complete in early 2024. 

With the need for fewer cancer deaths, an ever-changing market, and the cancer shortage still looming over the country, the industry has never been more receptive to innovation than it is today. 

Ian Chan headshot scaled 150x150 1
Ian Chan
Co-Founder at Abpro
Ian Chan is a co-founder of the biotech company, Abpro.
cropped Dr. Eugene Chan 150x150 1
Dr. Eugene Chan
Co-Founder at Abpro
Dr. Eugene Chan is a co-founder of the biotech company, Abpro.