As GLP-1 drugs boom, other healthcare companies are cashing in

The popularity of new GLP-1 drugs for weight loss is giving rise to a secondary market with large revenue potential, and companies are vying for a piece of the action.

Obesity treatments from Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly are poised to become some of the most lucrative drugs of all time — Novo’s GLP-1 diabetes medicine Ozempic. was already one of the best-selling drugs in 2023. And as the drugs’ benefits become clearer in other chronic conditions, analysts are further hiking their revenue forecasts. Some estimates put the GLP-1 market at $100 billion or higher by 2030.

With so much growth on the horizon, businesses peripheral to the pharmaceutical industry aim to cash in on supplemental products and services.

Budgeting benefits

With a list price of around $1,000 per month for Novo’s obesity drug Wegovy, widespread U.S. uptake could have a significant impact on healthcare costs. That threat has worried lawmakers like Senator Bernie Sanders, I-VT, who said the “outrageously high price of [Novo’s] Wegovy and other weight loss drugs have the potential to bankrupt Medicare and our entire healthcare system.”

Rebates and discounts offered by Novo and Lilly mean that the net price paid for GLP-1 drugs is often lower than the sticker price, however. And currently, few insurers on the Affordable Care Act marketplace, which encompasses 45 million Americans, cover GLP-1 medications for weight loss. According to research group KFF, only 1% of ACA prescription drug plans cover Wegovy, which is approved for weight loss in adults who are obese or overweight and have heart disease. Ozempic, which is only approved for diabetes, is covered by 82% of plans.

In the employer insurance market, GLP-1 coverage is growing, but only 34% of employers provide coverage for both diabetes and weight loss, according to a survey published in June by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. However, 19% of plans that currently only offer coverage for diabetes are considering expanding benefits to weight loss, creating potential opportunities for some providers.

Data analytics company Xevant and Ivim Health have teamed up to offer a medical weight loss corporate benefit, beginning Aug. 1. Dubbed Ivim at Work, the collaboration includes GLP-1 therapies with personalized support, as well as data analytics. The pair describes it as beneficial to overall costs by decreasing the likelihood of chronic conditions caused by obesity that can otherwise increase those costs for employers.

Lifestyle support

Other companies are building a business around supporting lifestyle changes for weight loss through GLP-1s. Major brands are offering new services, such as tailored diet plans by Weight Watchers, GNC’s recently launched support section and food subscription company Daily Harvest’s GLP-1 companion food collection.

Nestlé Health Science, which offers formulas and protein products geared toward specific diseases, last month launched a web platform designed for people using GLP-1 medications.

The website features nutrition products that may offset some of the side effects of the medications, such as muscle loss, dehydration and upset stomach. But the platform will also soon offer registered dietitians to support a patient’s diet.

The emergence of these services underscores the impact GLP-1 medications have had on lifestyle trends, and some of the programs are gaining thousands of users. Calibrate, a company with a GLP-1 program that includes medications, video coaching and insurance help, reached more than 16,000 members, according to its latest report.

Data tracking

Data companies are also finding new opportunities to offer services in the GLP-1 market.

AI platform Dandelion Health announced in May the launch of a GLP-1 data “library” to analyze the drug class’ use. Using data from non-academic health center partners, the library includes 200,000 patient records that reveal patterns in the quality of weight loss through biomarkers, head-to-head efficacy comparisons, therapeutic benefits beyond current uses and side effects associated with use, the company said. The data could help develop tools to identify patients with “uncontrolled symptoms” or match treatment plans, Dandelion said.

Flagship raises $3.6B for biotech investing

Dive Brief:

  • Flagship Pioneering said Wednesday that it’s added another $3.6 billion to its capital base, bringing the total raised since 2021 to $6.4 billion.
  • The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company said $2.6 billion will be allocated into its eighth venture fund, while another $1 billion is set for other uses, including sector-specific strategic partnerships. In November, Flagship told regulators it planned to raise $3 billion for Fund VIII.
  • Meanwhile, Flagship announced more than a dozen promotions and new hires in its leadership ranks. The changes include the promotions of Lovisa Afzelius and Paul Biondi to general partner and the addition of Dina Ciarimboli as general counsel and executive partner.

Dive Insight:

Flagship’s robust funding round highlights a general recovery in biotech investment. A number of venture capital firms brought in fresh cash this year, including Foresite Capital, Sands Capital, Scion Life Sciences and a life sciences arm of Goldman Sachs. Arch Venture Partners is also raising a new $3 billion fund.

Still, investors are now often looking for more proven commodities rather than the preclinical startups that easily raised cash in 2020 and 2021. Activity in initial public offerings in the sector remains spotty, too.

Flagship offers institutional investors the chance to buy into a diverse universe of biotech companies. Launched in 2000, Flagship has created more than 100 scientific ventures and currently counts 40 companies in its portfolio, including COVID vaccine maker Moderna. All told, Flagship now has an aggregate capital pool of $10.9 billion and $14 billion of assets under management.

Flagship said the latest financing will support the creation and development of about 25 “breakthrough companies” in health, sustainability and artificial intelligence. In the company’s release, CEO Noubar Afeyan highlighted the potential for AI to “transform drug discovery” as Flagship propels new companies forward.

The company’s in-house drug development unit, Pioneering Medicines, now includes more than 100 employees with a pipeline of 10 experimental therapies. That division leads partnerships with major industry players including Pfizer, Novo Nordisk and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

While Flagship can point to Moderna as a signature success, the company has also seen some of its incubated companies stumble in a tough biotech market. Evelo Biosciences announced in November it would shut down after failing to recover from disappointing study results for its lead drug candidate. And both Seres Therapeutics and Sana Biotechnology were forced to lay off staff last year.

FDA’s lab-developed test rule could be first test of agency’s power post-Chevron

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn the Chevron doctrine could open the door to more challenges of Food and Drug Administration regulations, including the agency’s controversial rule on lab-developed tests.

In late June, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to overturn the decades-old Chevron deference principle, meaning that courts no longer must defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of ambiguous statutes passed by Congress. The cases, Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless Inc. v. Department of Commerce, were about monitoring requirements for fisheries, but they could have sweeping effects for all federal agencies.

“This is a broad decision that will come up in all sorts of ways, many of which are not foreseeable,” Jeff Gibbs, director at Washington, D.C.-based law firm Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, said in an interview with MedTech Dive.

Gibbs added the decision will affect the medical device industry, and that ongoing litigation challenging the FDA’s final rule on lab-developed tests, or LDTs, could be “something of a bellwether” for how Chevron’s reversal could affect the agency.

An FDA spokesperson said the agency remains confident in the legal underpinnings for its regulations, guidances and decisions.

“We will continue to take actions that are guided by science and consistent with federal law and our regulatory authorities,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

The court’s decision is “very significant for FDA,” former agency Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. Courts will still defer to the FDA on product review decisions, Gottlieb wrote, but some areas could be affected immediately, including the agency’s final rule on LDTs.

LDTs an ‘early indication’ for Chevron effect

An early indication of how the Supreme Court’s Chevron ruling will be applied is expected in the regulation of LDTs.

For decades, the FDA treated LDTs with enforcement discretion, meaning it did not require most tests developed in a laboratory to comply with regulations for medical devices such as premarket review, device registration, labeling standards and adverse event reporting.

That all changed on May 6, when the agency published a final rule that greatly expands its oversight of LDTs, bringing the tests under the same framework as other in vitro diagnostics. The FDA forged ahead with the plan, despite strong opposition from the lab industry, because officials believe the risks associated with the increasingly sophisticated and widely used tests have grown since the agency first adopted the less rigorous approach to regulating them.

Critics of the new regulation have accused the agency of overstepping its statutory authority in defining LDTs as medical devices. Less than a month after the final rule was issued, the American Clinical Laboratory Association sued the FDA in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to have the rule vacated. Congress never granted the FDA the authority to regulate the provision of testing services by clinical laboratories, argued the ACLA, whose members include Labcorp, Quest Diagnostics and other test developers.

The Supreme Court’s decisions in Loper and Relentless overturning the Chevron deference standard will now shape the court’s review of the ACLA’s challenge, legal experts said.

“I certainly expect that Loper and Relentless are going to be a big part of the current litigation,” said attorney Rebecca Wood, a partner at Chicago-based law firm Sidley and former chief counsel at the FDA. “It doesn’t mean that the agency necessarily will lose, but it certainly would get a lot less deference than it would have before those decisions.”

FDA’s positions on scientific, technical and regulatory policy issues will continue to command respect, even with the Chevron precedent overturned, said Wood. However, the ruling could make it harder for the agency to win such court cases.

Whether testing companies and organizations will bring further legal challenges against the LDT regulation in the wake of the Supreme Court’s action remains to be seen. “They may just prefer to allow it to play out in that particular case,” Wood said.

Some think the FDA will face more pushback on its decisions overall, particularly those that involve interpreting the scope of its authority under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Bristol Myers’ leukemia blockbuster set to face generic rivals

Pharmaceutical companies face a looming patent cliff over the next several years, as generic rivals could erode sales of some of the industry’s best-selling medicines. For some drugmakers, copycat competitors are already on the doorstep.

Bristol Myers Squibb, for one, could soon hit headwinds for its blockbuster Sprycel as the first generic of the leukemia drug is expected to hit the market in September.

Sprycel, or dasitinib, is a kinase inhibitor that was approved in 2006 to treat chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of blood cancer that’s diagnosed in about 10,000 people in the U.S. each year. The tablet has been a reliable blockbuster for Bristol Myers over the years, reaching $1.9 billion in global sales in 2023. Sales topped $2.1 billion in both 2022 and 2021.

Bristol Myers has faced several challenges to Sprycel’s patents, and filed a patent infringement lawsuit again Swedish biopharma company XSpray Pharma in 2022, as well as a handful of other companies that were challenging two patents listed in the Food and Drug Administration’s Orange Book that expire in 2025 and 2026.

Bristol Myers settled with XSpray last year, clearing the way for the challenger to launch a generic dasatinib as soon as Sept. 1, 2024. XSpray has an FDA decision date of July 31 for its “optimized version of dasatinib,” Dasynoc.

If Dasynoc is approved, it will join dozens of new generics cleared by the FDA this year, including several copies of cancer drugs. Their entry could lead to price declines in oncology, according to IDP Analytics. Sprycel has a list price of more than $18,000 per month. CML mostly affects adults 65 and older, and Sprycel treatment is therefore often covered under Medicare.

Biocon, Teva Pharmaceutical and several other companies also have developed dasitinib generics and secured tentative FDA approval.

Sprycel’s patent expiration isn’t the only generic threat Bristol Myers faces. Copycat competitors to Revlimid are available in limited fashion already, while protection for top-sellers Eliquis and Opdivo run out in 2026 and 2028 in the U.S., respectively.

In oncology, Bristol Myers is focused on expanding the market for Breyanzi, a CAR-T cell therapy for different types of lymphoma and leukemia, as well as for Abecma, for multiple myeloma. Opdualag, a combination immunotherapy for melanoma, also figures heavily in the company’s plans.

Elsewhere in Bristol Myers’ pipeline are two candidates for acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, that are in early clinical stages. The company co-markets with Servier Idhifa for AML, which is considered a hard-to-treat disease,

Leqembi sales inch higher; Spark’s pivot leads to layoffs

Today, a brief rundown of news from Eisai, Spark Therapeutics and Ipsen as well as updates from Element Biosciences and Novartis that you may have missed.

New data from Symphony Health indicate sales of Eisai and Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug Leqembi totaled $11 million in June, suggesting Wall Street forecasts of around $30 million for the second quarter are in reach, Jefferies analyst Michael Yee wrote in an investor note. Yet Christopher Raymond, an analyst at Piper Sandler, noted separately that patient uptake is still “not lighting the world on fire” and highlighted how doctors remain skeptical of Leqembi’s benefits and safety. Eisai, which has scaled back its launch expectations, estimates global sales will reach $360 million globally through the end of next March. — Ned Pagliarulo

Spark Therapeutics, the gene therapy developer now owned by Roche, this week began laying off some employees as part of a strategic “pivot” the company announced in May, a spokesperson confirmed to BioPharma Dive. The shift involved the discontinuation of several early-stage programs. Spark lists gene therapies for hemophilia A and Pompe disease in its pipeline, and developed the hemophilia B gene therapy Pfizer now sells as Beqvez. — Ned Pagliarulo

Ipsen has licensed an antibody-drug conjugate from startup Foreseen Biotechnology in a deal potentially worth up to $1.03 billion, the French drugmaker said Thursday. Ipsen said the ADC, which is currently in preclinical testing, targets a “novel tumor-associated antigen” that is overexpressed in many solid tumors. It’s the second ADC Ipsen has bet on since April, when the company acquired rights to a drug discovered by Sutro Biopharma. — Ben Fidler

San Diego-based Element Biosciences raised $277 million in a Series D financing led by Wellington Partners. Element will use the cash to help commercialize its DNA sequencer AVITI and launch a new research tool that can help scientists examine DNA, RNA, proteins and other molecules within single cells. The startup has now raised $680 million since launching in 2017. — Gwendolyn Wu

Novartis is closing a San Diego facility involved in gene therapy production, the San Diego Union Tribune reported Wednesday. The site’s closure is part of a restructuring of Novartis’ product development organization that will result in 680 job cuts, 240 of which are in the U.S. A total of 100 layoffs are expected by the time the facility is wound down in 2025, according to the newspaper. — Ben Fidler

Novo’s once-weekly insulin rejected by FDA

Dive Brief:

  • The Food and Drug Administration rejected Novo Nordisk’s application to sell a once-weekly insulin treatment called icodec, sending the Danish drugmaker a series of requests related to manufacturing and its potential use in Type 1 diabetes.
  • Regulators have indicated they can’t complete their review until the requests are resolved, Novo Nordisk said Wednesday. The company said it doesn’t expect to be able to respond to all the issues this year.
  • Novo’s description of the FDA’s Complete Response Letter did not outline any concerns about safety or efficacy. However, a panel of outside advisers to the FDA in May concluded that the benefits of the treatment did not outweigh its risks in Type 1 diabetics.

Dive Insight:

Novo is one of the world’s premier manufacturers, along with Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly. Both have been working for years to offer patients a more convenient option than the once-daily injections of insulin that many diabetics require.

Lilly in May announced positive Phase 3 results for its once-weekly insulin, called efsitora alfa. Novo has already won approval in the European Union, Canada, Australia, Japan and Switzerland to sell icodec under the brand name Awiqli for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The medicine is also approved in China for Type 2 diabetes.

But an FDA advisory panel in May expressed concerns about the potential for icodec to trigger a higher risk of hypoglycemia that would require more patient monitoring in type 1 diabetics. The committee didn’t discuss the use of the drug in type 2 diabetes.

Novo said Wednesday that it’s committed to bringing icodec to the U.S. market and will work closely with the FDA to fulfill its requests. Novo isn’t alone in facing a stumbling block over manufacturing; a number of recent rejections from the agency have centered on the issue.

Novo and Lilly are both trying to launch a new option as they and other makers of insulin face increasing scrutiny on pricing. Last year, both companies moved to sharply cut the price of several branded insulin products.

Though they have long dominated the diabetes market, Novo and Lilly most recently have benefited from the incredible success of their drugs used to treat obesity. Demand has been so high they are spending billions on manufacturing to meet it. They’re also competing with an ever-growing number of companies vying to develop potential challengers. 

Pfizer thinks it found its obesity pill

With tens of billions of dollars at stake, some of the world’s largest drug companies are racing to develop pills with the same power as the weight loss shots that have quickly become among the industry’s best-selling medicines. Pfizer is far behind in that race, but has now selected a new entrant it hopes will make up ground.

On Thursday, the pharmaceutical giant said it is advancing a once-daily version of an experimental and closely watched medicine called danuglipron. Pfizer based the decision on results from a small clinical trial of healthy volunteers that’s been evaluating how the body interacts with danuglipron. Studies designed to find the optimal dose of the medicine are scheduled for later this year.

Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly have already demonstrated the revolutionary power of GLP-1, a hormone that controls appetite and blood sugar. Their shots Wegovy or Zepbound mimic this hormone, and have been shown to lower weight by roughly 10% to 20%. In the first three months of this year, those drugs respectively generated about $1.4 billion and $518 million in sales.

Many other developers are now trying to get in on the action, with Pfizer being one of the most prominent.

Pfizer shares have lost nearly half their value since late 2022 as revenue from COVID-19 products plummeted. Under pressure to change the narrative, the company has cut costs, made leadership changes and identified weight management as a path to near-term growth. During a research and development event at the end of 2022, executives claimed danuglipron has the potential to be a $10 billion-a-year drug.

But Pfizer has struggled to make inroads on the obesity front. It scrapped a different oral GLP-1 drug last summer because of safety concerns. Then, in December, it chose not to move forward with a twice-daily version of danuglipron, also because of side effects.

A mid-stage trial found patients on that version experienced 8% to 13% greater weight reduction than those given a placebo. Yet, more than half of participants in the drug arms discontinued treatment. Pfizer said rates of diarrhea, vomiting and nausea went as high as 25%, 47% and 73%, respectively.

Despite those issues, as well as the challenge of catching up to more advanced competitors, Pfizer hasn’t given up on danuglipron — at least not yet.

Umer Raffat, an analyst at the investment firm Evercore ISI, speculates that with its update Thursday, Pfizer is “likely buying time” to see more data from a backup once-daily drug it’s been developing. “Candidly, the trial that just wrapped up never answered the question on” what dose would be effective enough to compete, he wrote in a note to clients.

“In that backdrop, the judicious thing to do from [the] Pfizer perspective was to not overcommit — and that’s exactly what they did today,” Raffat added. They “didn’t kill [danuglipron], they said it may move forward, but not right to [Phase 3].”

The move appeared to go over well with investors, as Pfizer stock rose more than 3% in Thursday morning trading. 

In his own note, Jefferies analyst Akash Tewari wrote that he and his team “don’t want to get carried away with what today’s update means.”

However, Pfizer “has one of the largest primary care sales forces in the world, and obesity is primed to be the largest pharmaceutical market in history,” he wrote. “[S]imply having a viable product that takes 5-10% market share would be a meaningful product opportunity” for Pfizer, which, between 2025 and 2030, faces $17 billion in potential revenue loss from products losing patent protection.

Louise Chen, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, argues that an “easy to manufacture oral obesity drug could take a large share” of a market that’s expected to surpass $100 billion.

FTC to sue three largest PBMs over drug price practices: WSJ

Dive Brief:

  • The Federal Trade Commission is preparing to sue the three largest pharmacy benefit managers in the U.S. — CVS’ Caremark, Cigna’s Express Scripts and UnitedHealth’s Optum Rx — over how they negotiate prices for drugs with pharmaceutical manufacturers, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
  • The lawsuits will center on PBMs’ business practices related to discounts for drugs including insulin, the WSJ reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.
  • News of the upcoming suits comes one day after the FTC released an interim report on the status of its almost three-year investigation into the drug middlemen. The report found PBMs lean on their market power to profit off of patients and independent pharmacists.

Dive Insight:

PBMs negotiate rebates with drugmakers in return for placing their drugs on a favorable tier of the PBM’s formulary, so that more people can access — and pay for — the drugs. The companies say they save people money on their medications. However, PBMs have long been criticized for opaque and confusing business practices that research suggests contribute to the cost of drugs in the U.S.

Lawmakers remain under pressure to do more to lower drug prices, as almost 1 in 3 Americans delayed or skipped doses of their medication last year, according to an August 2023 KFF survey.

The FTC is one of a handful of government agencies investigating PBMs. That work led this week to the agency’s interim report, which was attacked by the PBM industry as one-sided.

Still, the report adds to a significant amount of research raising concerns about PBMs’ market power. It’s a highly consolidated industry: Caremark, Express Scripts and Optum Rx handle almost 80% of all prescriptions in the U.S.

Each are owned by a massive health insurer and operate their own pharmacy networks, allowing them to nudge patients to their owned subsidiaries at the expense of competitors in the drug supply chain, according to the FTC’s analysis.

The FTC’s impending lawsuit will focus on insulin, the WSJ reported. When filed, it will become the latest in a series of lawsuits against Caremark, Express Scripts and Optum Rx for allegedly contributing to higher prices for the diabetes drug.

In separate emailed statements, Caremark and Express Scripts said their work negotiating discounts saves their clients money, including for insulin.

“Any action that limits the use of these PBM negotiating tools would reward the pharmaceutical industry and return the market to a broken state,” a spokesperson for Caremark said.

Optum Rx declined to comment.

AbbVie names new R&D head; Arcutis eczema cream approved

Today, a brief rundown of news from AbbVie and Skyhawk Therapeutics, as well as updates from Arcutis Biotherapeutics and Zevra Therapeutics that you may have missed.

AbbVie on Wednesday named Roopal Thakkar as its chief scientific officer and head of research and development. Thakkar, who joined Abbott in 2003 and continued on to AbbVie after its spinout, will succeed Tom Hudson, who’s retiring after eight years at the company, including five as CSO. A physician, Thakkar previously led AbbVie’s regulatory affairs and last year became its chief medical officer for global therapeutics. — Ned Pagliarulo

An experimental RNA-targeting drug from Skyhawk Therapeutics significantly reduced huntingtin protein in a small trial of healthy volunteers, providing evidence for the biotechnology company to start testing the drug in people with Huntington’s disease. Mutant huntingtin protein accumulates in neurons, causing their dysfunction and leading to the brain disorder. Skyhawk’s drug is designed to reduce levels of huntingtin as well as another protein, PMS1, that’s linked to Huntington’s pathology. Results from the next arm of the study are expected in the second quarter next year. — Ned Pagliarulo

Arcutis Biotherapeutics on Tuesday received Food and Drug Administration approval for its atopic dermatitis cream Zoryve in adults and children 6 years and older. Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema, causing bothersome itching. Zoryve is a once-daily, steroid-free cream and the third formulation of Arcutis’ drug ingredient roflumilast to secure FDA approval. The company expects the cream to be available via wholesaler and dermatology pharmacy channels later this month. — Delilah Alvarado

Zevra Therapeutics on Tuesday said the FDA will convene on Aug. 2 with one of its advisory committees to review the company’s approval application for arimoclomol, a drug it’s developing for the rare inherited condition Niemann-Pick disease Type C. Arimoclomol was previously rejected by the FDA, but Zevra resubmitted it late last year. An original decision date of June was later pushed back to Sept. 21. — Delilah Alvarado

SciRhom pulls in $70M for a new type of immune disease drug

SciRhom, a German biotechnology startup focused on autoimmune diseases, has raised a $70 million Series A funding round that will help the company bring its first drug prospect into human testing. 

The fundraise announced Tuesday will support development of antibody drugs SciRhom aims to evaluate in inflammatory conditions. Its lead candidate, dubbed SRS-878, showed promise in preclinical studies in rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease and could begin its first human trial in Austria later this year.  

As its name suggests, SciRhom is developing drugs aimed at a protein known as iRhom2 that’s involved in inflammation. iRhom2 helps regulate a key enzyme, known alternatively as TACE or ADAM17, that’s long been a target of pharmaceutical research but is tough to target for drug development.

The company claims homing in on iRhom2 instead provides a workaround, enabling it to control the inflammatory activity of ADAM17 without impacting some of the enzyme’s protective functions. Doing so, it says, could induce immune “tolerance” in people with autoimmune conditions, though that hasn’t yet been proven in humans. 

The company may test the approach in lupus nephritis as well as rheumatoid arthritis and IBD. 

“Now is the time to shift gears and accelerate our novel and potentially groundbreaking therapeutic strategy toward clinical proof-of-concept and beyond to reach patients in need of better autoimmune treatments,” Jens Ruhe, SciRhom’s chief operating officer, said in a statement.

SciRhom’s funding involved more than a half dozen investors and was co-led by Andera Partners, Kurma Partners, Hadean Capital, MIG Capital and Wellington Partners. The biotech was co-founded in 2016 by Ruhe, rheumatology expert Carl Blobel and biotech investor Andreas Jenne. 

The financing also adds to a recent surge of interest in autoimmune drug developers. Almost half of the 26 M&A deals announced in 2024 have been for immune disease-focused biotechs, surpassing other areas such as cancer and neurology, according to BioPharma Dive data. Three immunology biotechs have gone public, already matching last year’s total, and multiple other startups have raised nine-figure funding rounds.