Ex-con Sam Wak­sal's start­up prices IPO, join­ing pa­rade of biotechs with Nas­daq news

Biotechs are com­ing out of the wood­work this morn­ing to set terms for their IPOs. So far, we’ve tracked five com­pa­nies rais­ing rough­ly $486 mil­lion com­bined, in­clud­ing an IPO from ex-con Sam Wak­sal’s Kad­mon spin­off MeiraGTx $MGTX.

MeriaGTx — $75 mil­lion

Sam Wak­sal

The com­pa­ny’s founder, Wak­sal, is a biotech ex­ec once sen­tenced to prison for his in­sid­er trad­ing con­vic­tion in­volv­ing Martha Stew­art. He was al­so the founder of Kad­mon, a com­pa­ny he had to bail from be­fore it could file its own IPO back in 2016. And now his brain­child — un­der the di­rec­tion of for­mer Kad­mon com­mer­cial chief Alexan­dria Forbes — has filed to raise $75 mil­lion.

Alexan­dria Forbes

The gene ther­a­py com­pa­ny said it’s priced its IPO at $15 per share, in­tend­ing to use the new cash to push five of its prod­uct can­di­dates in­to Phase I/II tri­als. The com­pa­ny has been build­ing out gene ther­a­py man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions to sup­port its work, which is ini­tial­ly fo­cused on oph­thal­mol­o­gy, or eye dis­eases, where the first gen­er­a­tion of de­vel­op­ers found some ear­ly suc­cess­es. MeiraGTx said much of the new IPO mon­ey will go to­ward four oph­thal­mol­o­gy pro­grams and one sali­vary gland pro­gram.

Ma­gen­ta Ther­a­peu­tics — $100M

Join­ing MeiraGTx in pric­ing this morn­ing is Ma­gen­ta Ther­a­peu­tics $MG­TA, which plans to sell at $14 to $16 per share. We cov­ered Ma­gen­ta’s IPO plans late last month, when the com­pa­ny had pen­ciled in a $100 mil­lion pub­lic of­fer­ing. At the range Ma­gen­ta an­nounced to­day, the com­pa­ny should raise right around that mark.

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment filed with the SEC, the cash will be used to push for­ward Ma­gen­ta’s most ad­vanced clin­i­cal pro­gram: a cell ther­a­py called MG­TA-456. The drug, cur­rent­ly in Phase II tri­als, is be­ing test­ed in pa­tients with in­her­it­ed meta­bol­ic dis­or­ders. Ma­gen­ta says new IPO mon­ey would ad­vance the treat­ment through a piv­otal tri­al, pay for some com­mer­cial­iza­tion ac­tiv­i­ties, and al­so fund re­search in­to ad­di­tion­al in­di­ca­tions for the ther­a­py, such as sick­le cell dis­ease and blood can­cers. Be­yond that, Ma­gen­ta might use the new funds to back MG­TA-145, a nov­el stem cell mo­bi­liza­tion prod­uct can­di­date.

Kezar Life Sci­enes — $86M

Next up is Kezar Life Sci­ences, which ex­pects to sell be­tween $14 and $16 per share. This one al­so isn’t brand new to us, as we cov­ered their ini­tial S-1 fil­ing in late May.  The com­pa­ny’s amend­ed S-1 notes the max cap­i­tal raised could be $85.9 mil­lion.

Kezar $KZR has plans to use the IPO mon­ey to push for­ward its pipeline of au­toim­mune drugs. Spun out of Am­gen with small mol­e­cules from the plate of the for­mer Onyx Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Kezar’s lead prod­uct is KZR-616. The drug is a se­lec­tive im­muno­pro­tea­some in­hibitor that’s about to be test­ed in a Phase Ib/II tri­al in lu­pus and lu­pus nephri­tis. The IPO might al­so fu­el KZR-616 for the treat­ment of id­io­path­ic in­flam­ma­to­ry my­opathies and up to three ad­di­tion­al au­toim­mune in­di­ca­tions in­to Phase Ib or Phase II clin­i­cal tri­als.

Au­to­lus Ther­a­peu­tics — $125M

Then there’s Lon­don-based Au­to­lus Ther­a­peu­tics, which is de­vel­op­ing can­cer ther­a­pies based on CAR-T cell tech­nol­o­gy. The com­pa­ny plans to raise $125 mil­lion by of­fer­ing 7.8 mil­lion shares be­tween $15 and $17 per share.

The com­pa­ny, found­ed in 2014, will use a big chunk of the pro­ceeds to get proof-of-con­cept in Phase I/II clin­i­cal tri­als of AU­TO2 in mul­ti­ple myelo­ma, AU­TO3 in pe­di­atric ALL and DL­B­CL, and AU­TO4 in pe­riph­er­al T-cell lym­phoma. It hopes to ad­vance three prod­uct can­di­dates through lat­er phas­es of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and, po­ten­tial­ly, reg­is­tra­tion, ac­cord­ing to its F-1.

Ei­dos Ther­a­peu­tics — $100M

Neil Ku­mar

Last up is San Fran­cis­co-based Ei­dos Ther­a­peu­tics, Bridge­Bio’s start­up fo­cused on TTR amy­loi­do­sis. The biotech is out of the IPO chute look­ing at $100 mil­lion by of­fer­ing 6.3 mil­lion shares at $15 to $17 per share. In­sid­ers are buy­ing up half.

Bridge­Bio chief Neil Ku­mar has been bull­ish about this par­tic­u­lar sub­sidiary in the group, even though it’s up against some heavy­weight play­ers in drug de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing Al­ny­lam, Io­n­is and even Pfiz­er.

Their drug was ini­tial­ly ad­vanced by Is­abel­la Graef at Stan­ford and Mamoun Al­hamad­sheh, the com­pa­ny sci­en­tif­ic co-founders, who nailed down pre­clin­i­cal ev­i­dence that the drug can sta­bi­lize TTR and pre­vent the cas­cade of events that caus­es the dis­ease — a dis­ease mod­i­fy­ing ap­proach that will now head to the clin­ic.

Ei­dos says most of the pro­ceeds will fund the clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of AG10 for the treat­ment of AT­TR-CM and AT­TR-PN, in­clud­ing its on­go­ing Phase II AT­TR-CM and planned Phase III AT­TR-PN clin­i­cal tri­als.

Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

How Pur­due's $272M ad­dic­tion pay­out fund­ed a new home for its dis­card­ed non-opi­oid re­search

Don Kyle spent more than 20 years working for Purdue Pharma, right through the US opioid epidemic that led to the company’s rise and eventual infamy. But contrary to Purdue’s focus on OxyContin, Kyle was researching non-opioid painkillers — that is, until the company shelved his research.

As the company’s legal troubles mounted, Kyle found an unlikely way to reboot the project. In 2019, he took his work to an Oklahoma State University center that’s slated to receive more than two-thirds of the state’s $272 million settlement with Purdue over claims that the drugmaker’s behavior ignited the epidemic of opioid use and abuse.

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President Joe Biden at the State of the Union address with Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

The drug pric­ing pres­i­dent: Biden warns of ve­to for any IRA re­peal at­tempts

President Joe Biden made clear in his “finish the job” State of the Union address last night that one of those jobs to be finished is insulin prices.

Biden’s push again to tackle insulin prices, after Republicans rebuffed the idea last summer and just after Biden won Medicare drug price negotiations/caps via the Inflation Reduction Act, shows how heavily he’s leaning into this work.

Rupert Vessey, Bristol Myers Squibb head of research and early development

Up­dat­ed: R&D tur­bu­lence at Bris­tol My­ers now in­cludes the end of a $650M al­liance and the de­par­ture of a top re­search cham­pi­on

This morning biotech Dragonfly put out word that Bristol Myers Squibb has handed back all rights to its IL-12 clinical-stage drug after spending $650 million to advance it into the clinic.

The news arrives amid a turbulent R&D stage for the pharma giant, which late last week highlighted Rupert Vessey’s decision to depart this summer as head of early-stage R&D following a crucial three-year stretch after he jumped to Bristol Myers in the big Celgene buyout. During that time he struck a series of deals for Bristol Myers, and also shepherded a number of Celgene programs down the pipeline, playing a major role for a lineup of biotechs which depended on him to champion their drugs.

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Utpal Koppikar, new Verily CFO

Ex­clu­sive: Ver­i­ly wel­comes Atara Bio­ther­a­peu­tics vet­er­an as new CFO

Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences outfit, has plucked a new CFO from the ranks of Atara Biotherapeutics, the company announced on Wednesday.

Utpal Koppikar joins Verily after a nearly five-year stint as CFO and senior VP at Atara, though his résumé also boasts roles at Gilead and Amgen.

The news follows a major reshuffling at Verily, including several senior departures earlier this year and a round of layoffs.

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Singer Nick Jonas is back at work for Dexcom, this time for its new G7 glucose monitor.

Dex­com's spokescelebri­ty Nick Jonas re­turns to Su­per Bowl in new glu­cose mon­i­tor com­mer­cial

Dexcom is going back to the Super Bowl with its pop singer and patient spokesperson Nick Jonas. Jonas takes center stage as the lone figure in the 30-second commercial showcasing Dexcom’s next-generation G7 continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device.

Jonas’ sleight-of-hand tricks populate the commercial — he pinches his empty fingers together and pops them open to reveal the small CGM — even as he ends the ad, saying, “It’s not magic. It just feels that way.” Jonas then disappears in a puff of smoke.

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Bill Haney, Dragonfly CEO (Dave Pedley/Getty Images for SXSW)

Drag­on­fly chief: Bris­tol My­ers shouldn’t blame IL-12’s clin­i­cal per­for­mance for de­ci­sion to scrap the deal — eco­nom­ics played a key role

Bristol Myers Squibb says the IL-12 drug they were developing out of Dragonfly Therapeutics was scrubbed from the pipeline for a simple reason: It didn’t measure up on clinical performance.

But Bill Haney, the CEO of Dragonfly, is taking issue with that.

The early-stage drug, still in Phase I development, has passed muster with Bristol Myers’ general clinical expectations, advancing successfully while still in Phase I, he says.

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Richard Francis, newly-appointed Teva CEO (Novartis via Facebook)

New Te­va CEO Richard Fran­cis repri­or­i­tizes to 'get back to growth'

Six weeks into his new role at the helm of Teva Pharmaceutical, Richard Francis said it’s time to “get back to growth,” starting with a good look at the company’s priorities.

The chief executive has kicked off a strategic review, he announced during Teva’s quarterly call, which will continue over the next several months and produce results sometime in the middle of 2023. That means some pipeline cuts may be in store, he told Endpoints News, while declining to offer much more detail.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf on Capitol Hill, Feb. 8, 2023 (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

FDA com­mis­sion­er floats ideas on how to bet­ter han­dle the pan­dem­ic

FDA Commissioner Rob Califf joined the heads of the CDC and NIH in the hot seat today before a key House subcommittee, explaining that there needs to be a much faster, more coordinated way to oversee vaccine safety, and that foreign biopharma inspections, halted for years due to the pandemic, are slowly ramping up again.

Califf, who stressed to the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health that the CDC also needs better data, made clear that the FDA’s ability to monitor the safety of vaccines “would also benefit greatly by a coordinated federal public health data reporting authority.”

Sanofi is renewing its #VaccinesForDreams campaign with more stories, such as Juan's in Argentina (Sanofi)

Sanofi re­news so­cial cam­paign to re­mind that vac­cines let peo­ple ‘Dream Big’

Sanofi is highlighting people’s dreams — both big and small — to make the point that vaccines make them possible.

The renewed “Dream Big” global social media campaign’s newest dreamer is Juan, a teacher in the Misiones rainforest in Argentina whose story is told through videos on Instagram and Sanofi’s website with the hashtag #VaccinesForDreams.

The campaign ties to Sanofi’s broader umbrella initiative “Vaccine Stories” to promote the value of vaccines and drive awareness of the need for improved vaccination coverage.

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