Nas­daq triple IPO play brings in $345M as the big biotech par­ty rocks on

Af­ter En­ta­sis Ther­a­peu­tics $ET­TX hit the floor on Nas­daq Wednes­day af­ter pric­ing its of­fer­ing be­low the range, the stock cratered fast, plung­ing 29% and like­ly caus­ing a few frowns among the rest of the biotechs in the queue for an IPO. But overnight we saw three more drug de­vel­op­ers go pub­lic, play­ing in­side the range and rais­ing a col­lec­tive $345 mil­lion.

No doubt, the ac­tion at the Nas­daq casi­no last night will bring in more pun­ters look­ing to cash in on the big wave of biotech IPOs for 2018 — many with­out even a first round of hu­man da­ta to look at — as the in­dus­try looks to see how many small out­fits can steer their way in­to the pub­lic mar­ket.

So let’s see how they did.

Vivek Ra­maswamy is still play­ing a hot hand on Nas­daq, but he may have lost a bit of the siz­zle that has sup­port­ed his oth­er plays.

Ra­maswamy’s biotech Urovant $UROV raised $140 mil­lion, sell­ing 10 mil­lion shares at $14 a pop. That’s the low end of the range. 

Al­ways in­ter­est­ed in rais­ing cash in chunks of $100 mil­lion-plus at a time, Ra­maswamy is spend­ing much of the new mon­ey at Urovant on vi­bre­gon — an oral β3-adren­er­gic ag­o­nist blad­der re­lax­er ob­tained in a deal with Mer­ck a year ago and now in an on­go­ing Phase III study for over­ac­tive blad­der.

Vivek Ra­maswamy

The Roivant com­pa­ny al­so re­cent­ly picked up the gene ther­a­py hMaxi-K from Ion Chan­nel In­no­va­tions. That pro­gram has been through some ear­ly-stage tri­al work on safe­ty and ef­fi­ca­cy but still has a long ways to go be­fore any reg­u­la­to­ry sub­mis­sion.

We’ve been won­der­ing how the mar­ket would re­spond to the lat­est Ra­maswamy IPO af­ter the de­ba­cle at Ax­o­vant, which is re­build­ing the pipeline in the wake of its Phase III flop in Alzheimer’s. At first blush, it seems clear that Ra­maswamy hasn’t lost the Mi­das touch, which in­sid­ers will both love and hate.

J.P. Mor­gan, Jef­feries and Cowen are the joint book-run­ning man­agers.

Arv­inas $ARVN, mean­while, rolled out its IPO on the high end of the range for a big­ger batch of stock, grab­bing $16 a share for 7.5 mil­lion shares and bring­ing in $120 mil­lion.

John Hous­ton

The crew at Arv­inas are fo­cused on some next-gen pro­tein degra­da­tion work in can­cer, with two high-pro­file part­ners in Pfiz­er and Genen­tech that ap­peared to have won the at­ten­tion of in­vestors back­ing this of­fer­ing.

Pro­tein degra­da­tion has be­come a hot field in on­col­o­gy, as new com­pa­nies look to do bet­ter than the orig­i­nal set of ther­a­pies that have hit the mar­ket. In Arv­inas’ case, CEO John Hous­ton has been go­ing af­ter prostate can­cer and breast can­cer, with their first Phase I for the lead prostate can­cer ther­a­py lin­ing up for a start in ear­ly 2019.

Gold­man Sachs, Cit­i­group and Piper Jaf­fray are man­ag­ing the IPO.

Sutro Bio­phar­ma $STRO hit the sweet spot with its IPO, rais­ing $85 mil­lion af­ter pric­ing shares at $15, the mid­dle of the range. It boost­ed its take by $10 mil­lion by up­siz­ing the num­ber of shares avail­able.

Backed by two big col­lab­o­ra­tors at Mer­ck and Cel­gene, we know now that in ad­di­tion to Mer­ck’s $60 mil­lion up­front in Ju­ly, the phar­ma gi­ant al­so bought $30 mil­lion in Sutro’s stock while com­mit­ting to $1.6 bil­lion in mile­stones. That of­fers a key Big Phar­ma en­dorse­ment for a plat­form that con­cen­trates heav­i­ly on a new gen­er­a­tion of can­cer-tar­get­ing an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gates and bis­pecifics. Cel­gene and Sutro are work­ing on an ADC aimed at BC­MA for mul­ti­ple myelo­ma — an ob­ses­sion at the big biotech.

Cowen and Piper Jaf­fray are the lead man­agers.

It could be that En­ta­sis’ trou­bles are due pri­mar­i­ly to its fo­cus on an­tibi­otics, where the up­side is not near­ly as well es­tab­lished as oth­er fields. We’ll know more af­ter these oth­er three stocks start trad­ing.

Novotech CRO Ex­pands Chi­na Team as Biotech De­mand for Clin­i­cal Tri­als In­creas­es up to 79%

An increase in demand of up to 79% for clinical trials in China has prompted Novotech the Asia-Pacific CRO to rapidly expand the China team, appointing expert local clinical executives to their Shanghai and Hong Kong offices. The company is planning to expand their team by 30% over the next quarter.

Novotech China has seen considerable demand recently which is borne out by research from GlobalData:
A global migration of clinical research is occurring from high-income countries to low and middle-income countries with emerging economies. Over the period 2017 to 2018, for example, the number of clinical trial sites opened by biotech companies in Asia-Pacific increased by 35% compared to 8% in the rest of the world, with growth as high as 79% in China.
Novotech CEO Dr John Moller said China offers the largest population in the world, rapid economic growth, and an increasing willingness by government to invest in research and development.
Novotech’s 23 years of experience working in the region means we are the ideal CRO partner for USA biotechs wanting to tap the research expertise and opportunities that China offers.
There are over 22,000 active investigators in Greater China, with about 5,000 investigators with experience on at least 3 studies (source GlobalData).

Daniel O'Day [via AP Images]

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead un­leash­es a $5B late-stage cash al­liance with Gala­pa­gos — lay­ing out O'­Day's R&D strat­e­gy

Daniel O’Day is executing his first major development deal since taking over as CEO of Gilead $GILD. And he’s going in deep to ally himself with a longstanding partner.

O’Day announced today that he is spending $5 billion in cash to add new late-stage drugs to Gilead’s pipeline, picking up rights to Galapagos’ $GLPG Phase III IPF drug GLPG1690 alongside adoption of the biotech’s Phase IIb drug GLPG1972 for osteoarthritis. And Gilead is also putting billions more on the table for milestones, gaining options for everything else in Galapagos’ pipeline, with a shot at all rights outside of Europe.

Altogether, Gilead is gaining rights to 6 clinical-stage assets, 20 preclinical programs and everything else being hatched in translation.

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Hal Barron [File photo]

Hal Bar­ron's team at GSK scores a win with pos­i­tive Ze­ju­la PhI­II front­line study — now comes the hard part

Score one for Hal Barron and the new R&D team steering GlaxoSmithKline’s pipeline.

The pharma giant reported this morning that its recently acquired PARP, Zejula (niraparib), hit the primary endpoint on progression-free survival in a frontline maintenance setting for women suffering ovarian cancer — following chemo and regardless of their BRCA status.

GSK bet $5 billion on the Tesaro buyout primarily to get this drug, drawing the shaking heads of biopharma. Why pay a big premium for a drug like this when AstraZeneca was going from strength to strength with Lynparza, ran the argument, having won a hugely important accelerated approval to jump out ahead — way ahead — of the rest of the PARP players? Lynparza — now co-owned by a powerhouse cancer team at Merck — won the first approval in frontline maintenance in ovarian cancer.

Alk­er­mes adds bipo­lar I dis­or­der to its FDA wish­list; Con­go con­firms first Ebo­la case in large city

→ An ever-ambitious Alkermes $ALKS team plans to add bipolar I disorder to its list of conditions for ALKS-3831, which it plans to pitch to the FDA in Q4. Alkermes says they were persuaded to add bipolar I disorder after a pre-NDA meeting with the agency, which came about 7 months after the biotech reported positive data for schizophrenia. The drug is a combo using olanzapine/samidorphan, which they hope will be shown to be as effective as olanzapine without the substantial increase in the risk of weight gain.

Pe­ter Kolchin­sky and Raj Shah raise a $300M fund de­vot­ed to biotech star­tups

Peter Kolchinsky and Raj Shah have another $300 million-plus to play with on the biotech venture side of their investment business. 

The two announced Monday morning that they’ve put together their first pure-play venture fund at RA Capital Management, which has been known to bet on just about every angle in healthcare investing — from rounds to follow-on investments at public companies. This new fund of theirs arrives well into a go-go era of new startup financing, with a particular focus on building new biotechs.

Boehringer buys Swiss biotech in its lat­est M&A deal, go­ing the next-gen can­cer vac­cine route

Boehringer Ingelheim has snapped up a Swiss biotech startup and added their group as a new platform for the oncology pipeline. 

The German biopharma company has bagged Geneva-based AMAL Therapeutics, paying out an unspecified upfront in a $358 million deal — cash, milestones and everything else, all in. Plus there’s 100 million euros on the line for commercial milestones.

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Ab­b­Vie beefs up the on­col­o­gy pipeline, bag­ging an up­start STING play­er with its own unique ap­proach

AbbVie isn’t letting its $63 billion buyout of Allergan stop its M&A/deals team from continuing their work.

Monday morning we learned that the pharma giant is snapping up tiny Mavupharma out of Seattle, a Frazier-backed startup that has its own unique take on STING — which is on the threshold of their first clinical trial.

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Billing it­self as the first AI biotech to launch hu­man tri­als, Re­cur­sion adds $121M C round

Billing itself as the first AI biotech with programs in the clinic, Salt Lake City-based Recursion now has a $121 million bankroll to start gathering human data to see if it’s on the right track. 

“We’re trying to build this discovery engine,” Recursion CEO Chris Gibson tells me ahead of the C round news. “We now have the first two programs in the clinic.” And that, he adds, qualifies as a first for any AI establishment “that actually have something in the clinic.”

FDA bats back As­traZeneca's SGLT di­a­betes drug for Type 1 di­a­betes — block­ing a class on safe­ty fears

The FDA has just fired its latest salvo at the SGLT class of diabetes drugs, blowing up some commercial opportunity at AstraZeneca as part of the collateral damage.

The pharma giant reported early Monday that the FDA has rejected its blockbuster drug Farxiga for Type 1 diabetes that can’t be controlled by insulin. And while the pharma giant maintained its usual grim silence in the face of a setback, this one should be easy to interpret.