Today, fintech and biotech are coming together to create a new, targeted financing option that is intended to drive efficiencies and advantages in drug development.
Agenus, Inc. has announced the launch of the Biotech Electronic Security Token (BEST), a new, blockchain-based digital security to finance a single biotech asset alongside traditional financing for institutional and individual investors. The initial asset to be tokenized is AGEN2034, a PD-1 inhibitor and a member of a class of drugs generating over $15 billion in revenue in 2018. Not only a bold step, this is fundamental change for the bio-pharmaceutical industry that can have broad-reaching implications.
The allocation of capital invested in drug development is estimated to have exceed $150 billion in 2017. Yet developement remains problematic on many fronts. In the traditional model, the valuation of an individual asset remains a function of the entire company's portfolio and the resulting dilution. Further, frequent restriction of promising investments to institutional inventors came limited access to a variety of parties from payors to patients.
The resulting inefficiencies in investments can complicate, obstruct and impede multiple aspect of drug development. However, this new approach taken by Agenus establishes unique solutions to "tokenize" a portion of future US asset sales and offer key advantages:
Simply put, the depth and breadth of financing has changed by this new mechanism. And interestingly, this evolving "democratization" of drug development financing mirrors today's health tech environment where clinical control is shifting to a more collaborative dynamic. Leveraging blockchain, Agenus can not only target a single biotech asset, but can establish new and powerful advantages from risk mitigation to a sharpened strategic focus. The establishment of this "open source" financing can become a fundamental shift to a more open and inclusive option across socioeconomic barriers. Further, the intrinsic security and organizational infrastructure may create a higher level of trusted, end to end financing.
The great strides in biotech innovation must include fundamental changes to the way these advances are capitalized. Our approach is efficient, inclusive and timely. These features are uniquely designed to benefit the very target of our therapies: the patient.
Garo Armen PhD, CEO Agenus
The impact of technology in the life sciences industry is significant. From biotechnology and immunotherapy to the empowerment of consumers to play a more, proactive role is care, these changes are at the heart of disruption to system that, by many standards, is broken. The "tokenization" of drug development financing is a unique and emerging option that may be about more than just money. The newfound focus on an individual drug asset combined with the a blockchain-based digital security may drive a new level of participation. Patients, advocacy groups, payors, clinicians, and a host of other stakeholders, in combination with traditional investors, may now invest in a drug therapy where a powerful emotional investment may have already taken place.
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A version of this article first appeared on Forbes.
John is the #1 global influencer in digital health and generally regarded as one of the top global strategic and creative thinkers in this important and expanding area. He is also one the most popular speakers around the globe presenting his vibrant and insightful perspective on the future of health innovation. His focus is on guiding companies, NGOs, and governments through the dynamics of exponential change in the health / tech marketplaces. He is also a member of the Google Health Advisory Board, pens HEALTH CRITICAL for Forbes--a top global blog on health & technology and THE DIGITAL SELF for Psychology Today—a leading blog focused on the digital transformation of humanity. He is also on the faculty of Exponential Medicine. John has an established reputation as a vocal advocate for strategic thinking and creativity. He has built his career on the “science of advertising,” a process where strategy and creativity work together for superior marketing. He has also been recognized for his ability to translate difficult medical and scientific concepts into material that can be more easily communicated to consumers, clinicians and scientists. Additionally, John has distinguished himself as a scientific thinker. Earlier in his career, John was a research associate at Harvard Medical School and has co-authored several papers with global thought-leaders in the field of cardiovascular physiology with a focus on acute myocardial infarction, ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.