5 cash-hun­gry biotechs crowd in­to Nas­daq in search of a $600M-plus wind­fall

The queue to get in­to Nas­daq just got a lot longer.

On Fri­day af­ter the mar­kets closed 5 more biotech’s tossed their S-1s in­to the mix, mark­ing at least 22 IPO pitch­es for the year to date. That falls in line next to the 20 biotechs that had gone pub­lic by this time last year — which marked an­oth­er busy year for pub­lic mar­ket de­buts and the cash they spin for R&D work.

We broke it out on a case-by-case ba­sis:


Vivek Ra­maswamy Roivant

Vivek Ra­maswamy is a crea­ture of habit. He cre­ates drug de­vel­op­ers un­der his um­brel­la com­pa­ny Roivant, beefs up their pipelines with drugs aban­doned or gath­er­ing dust on Big Phar­ma shelves, hires an ex­pe­ri­enced leader to run the shop, and then steers the firm to an IPO. Af­ter tak­ing Ax­o­vant and My­ovant pub­lic — in a pair of IPOs that raised more than half a bil­lion dol­lars — Der­ma­vant is be­ing groomed for a pub­lic de­but. Af­ter buy­ing tap­inarof from GSK $GSK, the biotech is gun­ning for a $100 mil­lion IPO, un­der the sym­bol $DRMT, ac­cord­ing to a fil­ing post­ed on Fri­day.


Neil Ku­mar End­points

Af­ter rais­ing about $299 mil­lion in Jan­u­ary, start­up mill Bridge­Bio is prim­ing it­self for a $225 mil­lion IPO. The Pa­lo Al­to, Cal­i­for­nia-based com­pa­ny has birthed a pletho­ra of star­tups such as Ei­dos, Navire, QED Ther­a­peu­tics and Pelle­Pharm, to fo­cus on ge­net­ic dis­eases, en­com­pass­ing der­ma­tol­ogy, on­col­o­gy, car­di­ol­o­gy, neu­rol­o­gy, en­docrinol­o­gy, re­nal dis­ease, and oph­thal­mol­o­gy. Run by Neil Ku­mar, Bridge­Bio now has 16 pro­grams, of which 4 are in or ap­proach­ing late-stage de­vel­op­ment. KKR owns a 10% stake in Bridge­Bio, which plans to list un­der the sym­bol $BBIO, ac­cord­ing to a fil­ing post­ed on Fri­day.


Bank­ing in a be­he­moth $125 mil­lion last Sep­tem­ber — in its third round of fi­nanc­ing — the pre­clin­i­cal biotech Atre­ca is aim­ing for a $100 mil­lion pub­lic de­but. Run by John Or­win — who was in charge of Re­lyp­sa un­til its $1.5 bil­lion takeover — the com­pa­ny is fo­cused on im­munother­a­pies, by us­ing tis­sue sam­ples from can­cer pa­tients to gath­er ide­al an­ti­bod­ies, em­ploy­ing B cells as their sound­ing board, for use in sol­id tu­mors.

John Or­win Atre­ca

The Red­wood City, Cal­i­for­nia-based play­er ex­pects to sub­mit an FDA ap­pli­ca­tion to test its lead ex­per­i­men­tal drug, ATRC-101, in hu­mans in late 2019, and kick off an ear­ly-stage tri­al in ear­ly 2020. Bak­er Broth­ers Life Sci­ences and its af­fil­i­ates own 22.8% of the com­pa­ny’s class A shares — and all of its B shares — while oth­er big share­hold­ers in­clude: Hadley Har­bor Mas­ter In­vestors (12.5%), Bill & Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion (9%) and Box­er Cap­i­tal (6.9%). Atre­ca is plan­ning to list un­der the sym­bol $BCEL, ac­cord­ing to a fil­ing post­ed on Fri­day.

Pre­vail Ther­a­peu­tics

Wad­ing deep­er in­to the biotech wa­ters, for­mer Co­lum­bia pro­fes­sor Asa Abe­liovich is tak­ing his Parkin­son’s gene ther­a­py project to the Nas­daq, look­ing to raise $100 mil­lion for Pre­vail Ther­a­peu­tics af­ter clos­ing a $50 mil­lion round just two months ago.

Asa Abe­liovich Pre­vail

Found­ed in 2017 in part­ner­ship with Or­biMed and The Sil­ver­stein Foun­da­tion,  the New York-based com­pa­ny vows to de­vel­op a broad­er set of AAV gene ther­a­pies for neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases, with a fo­cus on ge­net­i­cal­ly de­fined pa­tient pop­u­la­tions. In Parkin­son’s, that means tar­get­ing the GBA1 mu­ta­tion — an un­der­ly­ing dri­ver of the (less com­mon) neu­ro­log­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tions of a com­mon lyso­so­mal stor­age dis­or­der known as Gauch­er dis­ease. Ad­di­tion­al pro­grams in­clude PR006 for fron­totem­po­ral de­men­tia with GRN mu­ta­tion and PR004 for the treat­ment of synu­cle­inopathies, pre­clin­i­cal stud­ies of which are to be fund­ed by the IPO wind­fall.

Abe­liovich, who helped co-found high pro­file Alzheimer’s biotech Alec­tor, owns 10.1% of the stock. But Or­biMed has the li­on’s share here: Its 48.6% own­er­ship dwarfs Re­genxbio’s 9.1%, RA Cap­i­tal’s 8.1%, Pon­tif­ax’ 5.9% or EcoR1 Cap­i­tal’s 5.8%. Pre­vail plans to list as $PRVL.

Akero Ther­a­peu­tics

It’s bare­ly been a year since Akero threw its NASH can­di­date in­to the crowd­ed space from out of left field. In the months that fol­lowed, it added $70 mil­lion to its orig­i­nal $65 mil­lion cash re­serve, wooed Gilead vet An­drew Cheng as CEO, and se­cured an IND for the next phase in the clin­ic. And if it all goes ac­cord­ing to plan, it will be cel­e­brat­ing its biotech an­niver­sary with $86 mil­lion in IPO mon­ey.

An­drew Cheng Akero

In the S-1, Akero once again out­lined the case for its FGF21 ana­log — in-li­censed from Am­gen $AMGN — in dis­rupt­ing dis­ease pro­gres­sion, start­ing from the fat ac­cu­mu­la­tion that is be­lieved to cause cell stress. Af­ter treat­ing 83 type 2 di­a­betes pa­tients with the drug, in­ves­ti­ga­tors ob­served bet­ter plas­ma lipopro­tein lev­els and in­sulin sen­si­tiv­i­ty, in­di­cat­ing “the po­ten­tial of AKR-001 to redi­rect calo­ries away from the liv­er, re­duce liv­er fat, al­le­vi­ate he­pa­to­cyte stress, in­hib­it in­flam­ma­tion and re­solve fi­bro­sis in pa­tients with NASH, as well as re­duce sus­cep­ti­bil­i­ty to car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease” — a ma­jor cause of death for these pa­tients.

The biotech, now lo­cat­ed in San Fran­cis­co, al­so dis­closed that Am­gen gained a 7.8% stake from the deal in ad­di­tion to the $5 mil­lion up­front pay­ment. Clin­i­cal mile­stones to­tal $40 mil­lion and Akero could pay $75 mil­lion more if the drug makes it to the mar­ket. Ap­ple Tree Part­ners is the biggest share­hold­er here with 18.5%, while At­las, ven­Bio and Ver­sant each claims 15.2%. The pro­ceeds will go to­ward a planned Phase IIa tri­al con­firm­ing this the­o­ry as well as man­u­fac­tur­ing and oth­er ef­forts to beef up the clin­i­cal pipeline.

Im­age: Shut­ter­stock

As­traZeneca trum­pets the 'mo­men­tous' da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Ab­b­Vie wins an ap­proval in uter­ine fi­broid-as­so­ci­at­ed heavy bleed­ing. Are ri­vals My­ovant and Ob­sE­va far be­hind?

Women expel on average about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their time of the month. But with uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding is typical — a third of a cup or more. Drugmakers have been working on oral therapies to try and stem the flow, and as expected, AbbVie and their partners at Neurocrine Biosciences are the first to make it across the finish line.

Known chemically as elagolix, the drug is already approved as a treatment for endometriosis under the brand name Orilissa. It targets the GnRH receptor to decrease the production of estrogen and progesterone.

David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

Head­ed to PhII: Al­lo­gene CEO David Chang com­pletes a pos­i­tive ear­ly snap­shot of their off-the-shelf CAR-T pi­o­neer

Allogene CEO David Chang has completed the upbeat first portrait of the biotech’s off-the-shelf CAR-T contender ALLO-501 at virtual ASCO today, keeping all eyes on a drug that will now try to go on to replace the first-wave personalized pioneers he helped create.

The overall response rate outlined in Allogene’s abstract for treatment-resistant patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma slipped a little from the leadup, but if you narrow the patient profile to treatment-naïve patients — removing the 3 who had previous CAR-T therapy who didn’t respond, leaving 16 — the ORR lands at 75% with a 44% complete response rate. And 9 of the 12 responders remained in response at the data cutoff, offering a glimpse on durability that still has a long way to go before it can be completely nailed down.

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Sanofi brings in 4 new ex­ec­u­tives in con­tin­ued shake-up, as vac­cines and con­sumer health chief head out the door

In the middle of Sanofi’s multi-pronged race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, David Loew, the head of their sprawling vaccines unit, is leaving – part of the final flurry of moves in the French giant’ months-long corporate shuffle that will give them new-look leadership under new CEO Paul Hudson.

The company also said today that Alan Main, the head of their consumer healthcare unit, is out, and they named 4 executives to fill new or newly vacated positions, 3 of whom come from both outside both Sanofi and from Pharma.

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Fabrice Chouraqui, Cellarity CEO-partner (LinkedIn)

Drug de­vel­op­er, Big Phar­ma com­mer­cial ex­ec, now an up­start biotech chief — Fab­rice Chouraqui is ready to try some­thing new as a ‘CEO-part­ner’ at Flag­ship

Fabrice Chouraqui’s career has taken some big twists along his life journey. He got his PharmD at Université Paris Descartes and jumped into the drug development game for a bit. Then he took a sharp turn and went back to school to get his MBA at Insead before returning to pharma on the commercial side.

Twenty years later, after steadily rising through the ranks and journeying the globe to nab a top job as president of US pharma for the Basel-based Novartis, Chouraqui exited in another career switch. And now he’s headed into a hybrid position as a CEO-partner at Flagship, where he’ll take a shot at leading Cellarity — one of the VC’s latest paradigm-changing companies of the groundbreaking model that aspires to deliver a new platform to the world of drug R&D.

Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

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Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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Roger Perlmutter, Merck R&D chief (YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Backed by BAR­DA, Mer­ck jumps in­to Covid-19: buy­ing out a vac­cine, part­ner­ing on an­oth­er and adding an­tivi­ral to the mix

Merck execs are making a triple play in a sudden leap into the R&D campaign against Covid-19. And they have more BARDA cash backing them up on the move.

Tuesday morning the pharma giant simultaneously announced plans to buy an Austrian biotech that has been working on a preclinical vaccine candidate, added a collaboration on another vaccine with the nonprofit IAVI and inked a deal with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics on an early-stage antiviral.

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