Five Innovative Global Biotech Companies You Should Know About

Five Innovative Global Biotech Companies You Should Know About

This article was brought to you by our friends over at ETF Securities Australia. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of ETF Securities Australia and may not reflect the views of SelfWealth or its associates.

Before investing in any ETFs, you should consult the respective product’s Product Disclosure Statement, which will be available on the fund’s website.

Knowledge level: Beginner  Reading time: 5-6 minutes


The biotechnology sector came into the spotlight in 2020 as many companies raced to develop, trial and register vaccines for COVID-19. However, the potential and growth of this industry extends far beyond the pandemic. Biotechnology is transforming the way we treat and manage a range of health concerns and diseases and can be a highly lucrative space.


What is biotechnology?

Biotechnology specifically refers to technologies that use biological processes, capturing companies that focus on research, development, manufacturing and marketing of products based on biological and genetic information. 

The different types of biotechnology segments include biological drugs, vaccines, immunotherapy, gene therapy, orphan drugs and genetic engineering.

While Australian companies like CSL (ASX: CSL) are no slouches when it comes to innovative biotech, the US is typically viewed as the global centre. 

The dominance of the US market is partly due to the world-renowned US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process and the size of the American customer base. As a result, many companies base themselves in the US for easier access to the process and more efficient ability to distribute and market to US consumers.


Global innovators

Most investors are now well aware of the global companies who have been successful in developing vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. However, investors may be less familiar with some of the other innovators in the field.

Here are five US-listed companies you should know about.


1. Exelixis (NASDAQ: EXCEL)

Exelixis is focused on oncology therapeutics with three approved treatments covering kidney and liver cancer, thyroid cancer and melanoma. 

In January 2021, the company also received FDA approval for a combined treatment using one of their existing medications and a newer product as a first-line treatment for the most common form of kidney cancer.


2. Regeneron (NASDAQ: REGN)

Regeneron has eight FDA-approved medications across cancer, asthma, pain management and infectious diseases. A particular success has been Eylea, which is a treatment for a range of eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration. 

Regeneron has an extensive pipeline in research, development and testing. Approximately seven treatments are currently in Phase 3 testing. It also has a patented DNA sequencing technology known as VelociSuite® Technologies, which is one of the largest human sequencing efforts in the world.



3. Sage Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SAGE)

Sage Therapeutics specialises in therapies for brain disorders and currently has depression, neurology and neuropsychiatry franchise programs. 

It offers the first and only approved post-partum depression (PPD) product known as Zulresso® and it is also conducting phase testing for treatments covering PPD, major depressive disorder, treatment resistant depression, Parkinsons Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia and Huntington’s Disease. 

Further to this, Sage has formed a global collaboration with Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB) related to two of its treatments in phase testing.


4. Gilead Sciences Inc (NASDAQ: GILD)

Gilead covers three primary disease areas, including viral diseases, inflammatory diseases and oncology. It has 16 FDA-approved medicines for HIV, oncology and hepatitis C. 

The company recently acquired Immunomedics in October 2020, which has an approved treatment for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer. 

Furthermore, Gilead has a range of products in research, development and testing, one of which is anticipated to extend the existing successful HIV treatment program and another, Filgotinib, which is expected to be a breakthrough treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.


5. Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX)

Vertex is primarily known for its cystic fibrosis medications and currently has four FDA-approved treatments for this disease. The most recent of these, Trikafta, could assist up to 90% of patients with improved lung function. 

It has also acquired other biotechnology companies to expand its expertise and now has a pipeline of products in research, development and testing covering diseases and concerns such as diabetes, sickle cell disease and beta thalassemia.


Ways to invest in biotechnology

Australian investors are typically well-exposed to the concentrated Australian biotechnology market including CSL, but may consider the US for exposure to a more diverse and far larger biotechnology market.

Investors could consider direct shares, although it is worth being aware of the high failure rates of drug testing and long periods of development. That is, long periods where there may be no return or a limited return on investment. This means it can take a long time to see returns, if at all.

Alternatively, managed investments can assist with diversification and the risks inherent in the biotechnology industry by spreading the investment over a larger number of companies. 

ETFS S&P Biotech ETF (ASX: CURE) is one such example of a managed investment that offers broad and focused exposure to US biotechnology. All the US companies referenced in this article are included in this ETF.


For more information on investing in biotechnology or the ETFS S&P Biotech ETF (ASX: CURE), please contact ETF Securities.

To invest in ASX-listed ETFs or any other ASX and US-listed securities, join SelfWealth today for flat-fee $9.50 brokerage and no other account fees or commissions!


ETF Securities Australia Client Services

Phone: +61 2 8311 3488




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General Advice Warning


ETFS Management (AUS) Ltd (AFSL 466778) (“ETFS”), is the responsible entity and issuer of units in the ETFS S&P Biotech ETF (ASX Code: CURE) ARSN: 628 037 105. The Product Disclosure Statement contains all of the details of the offer of units in the Fund. Any investment decision should only be considered after reading the relevant offer document in full. 


This document is communicated by ETFS for publication by SelfWealth Ltd ACN 52 154 324 428 (“SelfWealth”) (Australian Financial Services Licence Number 421789). This document may not be reproduced, distributed or published by any recipient for any purpose. Under no circumstances is this document to be used or considered as an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities, investments or other financial instruments and any investments should only be made on the basis of the relevant product disclosure statement which should be considered by any potential investor including any risks identified therein.


This document does not take into account your personal needs and financial circumstances. You should seek independent financial, legal, tax and other relevant advice having regard to your particular circumstances. Although we use reasonable efforts to obtain reliable, comprehensive information, we make no representation and give no warranty that it is accurate or complete. 


Investments in any product issued by ETFS are subject to investment risk, including possible delays in repayment and loss of income and principal invested. Neither ETFS, ETFS Capital Limited nor any other member of the ETFS Capital Group guarantees the performance of any products issued by ETFS or the repayment of capital or any particular rate of return therefrom. 


The value or return of an investment will fluctuate and investors may lose some or all of their investment. Past performance is not an indication of future performance.  


Standard & Poor’s S&P Indices are trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC. “S&P”, as used in the term S&P Biotechnology Select Industry Index, is a trademark of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC (“S&P”) respectively, and has been licensed for use by ETFS. ETFS products are not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by S&P, and S&P does not make any representation regarding the advisability of investing in ETFS products.


Information current as at 17 February 2021.


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