Coming of age, Israel biotech sector gets ready for market


The sale of Israeli drugmaker NeuroDerm to Japanese pharma giant Mitsubishi Tanabe for $1.1 billion last month in the largest ever purchase of an Israeli healthcare company, has put the spotlight on Israel’s biotech sector, where a number of other firms are gearing up for commercialization of their product.


NeuroDerm develops treatments for patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, as well as other disorders related to the central nervous system.

The firm’s leading product candidate is not even on the market yet, but is in advanced clinical trials in both Europe and the United States. The product could hit the market as early as 2019.

The NeuroDerm deal, Anna Eldan of Israel Innovation Startup Authority said, “is the beginning of the coming of age of the Israeli biotech industry, and it is the result of a long-term government policy. We are very happy to see this kind o maturation, and there is still a lot of work to do.”

But, she added, “eventually out of these young innovative companies the next big Israeli pharma firm will emerge.”

“We are at an exciting transition point, and moving from being a research and development firm, based in Israel, to an international commercial firm,” Gamida Cell’s CEO Yael Margolin, who has headed the privately held company for the past 12 years, said in an interview earlier this month. Pharma giant Novartis is one of the investors in the firm.

As shown in the IATI report, over the last decade, Israeli life sciences companies have raised more than $6.7 billion on NASDAQ exchange, with $5 billion raised since 2013. The Nasdaq remains the main source for public offerings for Israeli life sciences companies, with more public offerings and more money raised than on all other exchanges combined, including on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE).

The shares of 60 life sciences firms are listed on TASE, the report said, of which 21, like BiondVax and RedHill, are dual-listed on foreign markets. These include biotechnology firms, holding companies that invest in life sciences technologies and firms, medical device companies and pharma companies.

The Israeli government continues to focus on providing a support network for R&D through various programs providing grants and other incentives, the IATI report said.



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