Drug Development

Ovid adds $26M to its coffers as Takeda deal closes, building a war chest for pipeline construction work

Jeremey Levin, Ovid

(Editor’s note: Four days after we published this story, Ovid followed up to say that the Form D filing was for the shares it issued to Takeda for their minority stake in the company after striking a 50/50 deal on developing one of Takeda’s programs. “At the time you reached out, we were constrained by our agreement with Takeda from discussing the numbers you reported,” he noted in an e-mail to me. “After speaking with Takeda, we can now tell you that the $25.8m was not in connection with a financing. The shares were issued to Takeda in connection with our license of OV935. We did not receive any cash.”)

Last week, as the executive team at Ovid Therapeutics was wrapping up a deal to join forces with Takeda on a new development program, the New York-based biotech was also quietly prepping a filing on its latest capital raise.

Just as the Takeda deal was announced, Ovid was getting ready to file a Form D outlining a $25.8 million fundraising.

The company tells me that they’re staying mum about this latest development, which comes 18 months after a $75 million raise to fund clinical trial work on their lead drug, OV101, in-licensed from Lundbeck.

The more recent deal with Takeda, adding a 50/50 joint venture to develop a new drug for rare epileptic encephalopathies, fits into their plan to scour global pipelines to find new drugs for neurology.

CEO Jeremy Levin, ousted from a troubled Teva in 2013, made his rep doing business development deals for Bristol-Myers Squibb during the famous “String of Pearls” era. Now, he’s gathering pearls for his own company, which he plans to build into an industry powerhouse after many Big Pharma players dropped out of the CNS field following a rash of failures.

There’s no telling how much Ovid plans to raise for the current round now in play. But he has a sizable syndicate backing him.

Fidelity Management and Research Company led the last round in 2015, with help from Cowen Private Investments, Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures, Tekla Capital Management, Sphera Global Healthcare Fund, Jennison Associates (on behalf of certain clients), Redmile Group, and Cormorant Asset Management, as well as some undisclosed “blue chip mutual funds and leading life sciences investors.” Existing Ovid investors, including DoubleLine Equity Healthcare Fund, also participated.

“There are other companies we are talking to,” Levin told me last week.  And pipeline building and development isn’t cheap. Ovid plans to double the size of its staff this year, adding a new group it’s building in Cambridge, MA to work with Takeda.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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