Genfit plans US listing as NASH drugmakers race to the finish line
As the race to develop NASH treatments heats up, French drug developer Genfit (Euronext: $GNFT) is planning to list itself in the United States as its drug elafibranor continues to be evaluated in a late-stage study for the so far untreated fatty liver disease that has ravaged the developed world.
On Monday, Genfit said it had intended to conduct a registered public offering of its ordinary shares in the United States, in addition to a private placement of its ordinary shares outside of the United States, primarily in Europe, including France. The timing, number and price of new ordinary shares and American Depositary Shares (ADSs) to be issued in the proposed public offering and private placement have not yet been determined, the company said.
NASH is characterized by a buildup of excess fat in the liver that induces chronic inflammation and eventually culminates in scarring that can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, cancer and death. The disease, which is typically associated with obesity and diabetes, is set to eclipse hepatitis C as the leading reason for liver transplants by 2020. Dubbed the silent disease, it is hard to diagnose in the early stages, making it difficult to estimate its prevalence, but studies show that it afflicts up to 12% of the adult population in developed countries. Although there are no approved drugs for the disease, the size of the NASH market is expected to cross $20 billion by 2025.
Late-stage readouts of elafibranor, along with Gilead’s $GILD selonsertib and Intercept’s $ICPT Ocaliva are expected next year. A host of drugmakers, small and big, are also targeting the disease for a piece of the so-far untapped multibillion dollar market. In a NASH deal late last month, Novartis $NVS joined forces with Pfizer $PFE to test its experimental FXR agonist tropifexor in combination with a trifecta of Pfizer drugs in different stages of development.