Biopharmaceutical pipeline and partnering opportunities

Most of Canada's private and public biopharmaceutical companies are small and medium-sized (SME) firms engaged in research and development of new therapeutics. Many biopharmaceutical innovations arise from research conducted in Canadian academic health research institutions, hospitals and government research laboratories. Major biopharmaceutical clusters are located in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

The Canadian biopharmaceutical pipeline includes highly innovative and promising product candidates in various therapeutic fields. There are about 163 Canadian biopharmaceutical small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with over 400 promising biopharmaceutical products in human health under development. About 75% of Canada’s biopharmaceutical products are in the early stages of R&D, (i.e., research to phase I/II), while another 25% are in mid- to late- stages of development (i.e., late-stage clinical trials). Canadian companies, over time, have advanced 75 products into phase II development and another 24 are in phase III clinical trials as of February 2016. A small number (8) of Canadian products are on the global marketplace.

Canadian biopharmaceutical SMEs have strengths in oncology, with 40% of the industry’s products in development in this category. The second most intensive field of investigation by Canadian companies is in the area of central nervous systems (CNS) disorders, which claims 15% of products in the pipeline.

Products are also being developed by Canadian companies in a host of other therapeutic areas including infectious diseases (31), diabetes (17), inflammatory diseases (16), cardiovascular diseases (11), blood disorders and HIV (4), among others.

Biopharmaceutical SME’s Product Candidates by Stage of Development
(as of February 2016):
Stage Research Pre-clinical Phase I Phase I/II Phase II Phase III Filed Market Total
Total 104 148 44 13 75 24 0 8 416

Source: 2016 Annual Report—Overview of the Canadian Biopharmaceutical Sector, Peter Winter, February 2016.

Biopharmaceutical SMEs capitalize and strengthen their values by drawing on strong talent, and seeking alliances, partnerships, and licensing deals with venture capital (VC), equity capital and large pharma. The current trend in the global pharmaceutical industry is to externalize drug R&D programs and, as a result, brand-name Multi–National Enterprises (MNEs) are increasingly becoming an important source of financing for biopharmaceutical SMEs. By forming strategic alliances, providing risk capital investments from dedicated corporate VC funds, and participating in VC funds in Canada, pharmaceutical MNEs are providing a window on promising R&D opportunities, and a much needed boost to emerging and early stage biopharmaceutical companies.

Around 45% of Canadian biopharmaceutical SMEs have unpartnered asset opportunities. Most of these SMEs are specialising in the areas of oncology (28%), central nervous system disorders (20%) and infectious diseases (8%). Most of their products are still in pre-clinical phase (32%), phase I (10%), and phase II (22%). As a result, Canada’s world-class and innovative biopharmaceutical companies continue to offer investment and strategic partnership opportunities for global pharmaceutical companies.

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