Eyeing a drug launch in early ’20, Esperion lines up a new, $200M funding deal
Esperion CEO Tim Mayleben has fattened the biotech’s cash reserves with an extra $200 million as he lays the foundation for the projected commercial launch of bempedoic acid next year.
Oberland Capital stepped up with the loan, handing over $125 million now, promising $25 million more once the FDA OKs the cholesterol-lowering drug and leaving $50 million available as needed.
The fresh injection of funds comes 6 months after Daiichi Sankyo agreed to pay $300 million in an upfront and near-term milestones to secure European rights to the drug. And now, says the CEO $ESPR, the new package “more than obviates the need for any future funding.”
“This funding agreement provides Esperion with substantial cash resources to support the US commercial launch,” Mayleben told analysts in a call Thursday evening.
And he noted that the company didn’t actually need the money based on their financial projections — they were already funded to launch. The new deal “adds dry powder to our cash position,” he added.
Mayleben clearly felt he got a good deal. They’ll be paying down the note with a mid-single digit repayment rate on US revenue, which drops if the team hits a certain set of revenue goals. Once repaid, they’ll get the full rights to the revenue back.
The FDA has fielded the application for bempedoic acid and set a PDUFA date on February 20, 2020. At the time they announced the timeline, Esperion execs also noted that the FDA had no immediate plans to host an expert panel review — an event that would have raised some added risks of a rejection.
Aside from threading the needle on the FDA decision, though, Esperion also faces significant skepticism that the company can hit their mark commercially. As we saw in the latest data release, their drug spurred a moderate drop in LDL of 18% with a 19% cut in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. That fit in well with what we’d seen before in a string of Esperion studies, with the therapy fitting neatly between the cheap generics that dominate the market and the far more effective PCSK9s that have had trouble finding traction, spurring some deep discounting that could spell trouble for Esperion.
Social image: Tim Mayleben, Esperion