The biotech IPOs keep com­ing at chart-top­ping lev­els — with no slow­down in sight

An­oth­er week, an­oth­er string of new biotech IPOs — and biotech IPOs pric­ing at record lev­els.

In the US, two more ear­ly-stage com­pa­nies broke through the $200 mil­lion mark. The syn­thet­ic lethal­i­ty-fo­cused Re­pare Ther­a­peu­tics up­sized its IPO once from $16 to $18, to $18 to $20, and then priced at the high end to fetch $220 mil­lion. For­ma Ther­a­peu­tics, part­nered with Bris­tol My­ers Squibb and fo­cused on sick­le cell dis­ease, al­so set at $16 to $18, sold at $20 and ul­ti­mate­ly fetched $278 mil­lion.

Mean­while, in South Ko­rea, SK Bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, a sub­sidiary of the SK hold­ings con­glom­er­ate and mak­er of the epilep­sy drug Xcor­pi, priced at the top of its range to col­lect $794 mil­lion. It was the largest pub­lic of­fer­ing in the coun­try since Cell­tri­on Health earned $900 mil­lion in the sum­mer of 2017, per Reuters, al­though it fell a few dol­lars short of what ear­li­er re­ports had pre­dict­ed.

The lat­est pair of rais­es on the US ex­change add to last week’s gold­mine, when Avid­i­ty, Vax­cyte, and Gen­er­a­tion Bio each cleared $230 mil­lion de­spite not one of them hav­ing put a drug in­to hu­man test­ing. The boom ap­pears to be at least in part a prod­uct of the pan­dem­ic, as in­vestors weary of the oth­er cor­ners of a stunt­ed econ­o­my have poured mon­ey in­to com­pa­nies de­vel­op­ing Covid-19 drugs and al­lowed pri­vate biotechs to go pub­lic at soar­ing rates.

The last two weeks alone have seen more large rais­es for pre­clin­i­cal biotechs than the last three years com­bined. Over that time, on­ly two com­pa­nies raised over $150 mil­lion that ear­ly in their de­vel­op­ment, ac­cord­ing to Re­nais­sance Cap­i­tal.

The trend to­ward larg­er rounds for the ear­ly stage com­pa­nies, though, pre­dates the pan­dem­ic, as pub­lic in­vestors join ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists in their in­creased will­ing­ness to make large bets on promis­ing, al­beit pro­tean, sci­ence. Beam Ther­a­peu­tics, Black Di­a­mond Ther­a­peu­tics, Rev­o­lu­tion Med­i­cines, and Pas­sage Bio all raised over $180 mil­lion in Jan­u­ary and ear­ly Feb­ru­ary.

In­vestors al­so sig­naled their be­lief in bio­phar­ma by back­ing Roy­al­ty Phar­ma’s record $2.2 bil­lion IPO. Roy­al­ty Phar­ma doesn’t make drugs. In­stead, it buys up long term roy­al­ties for in­ves­ti­ga­tion­al and ap­proved ther­a­pies, mean­ing for in­vestors it acts as some­thing akin to an in­dex or port­fo­lio. It’s been a lu­cra­tive busi­ness so far, and in back­ing it, in­vestors es­sen­tial­ly made a bet that mak­ing new drugs in gen­er­al would con­tin­ue be­ing a lu­cra­tive busi­ness.

Ex­clud­ing Roy­al­ty Phar­ma, there’s now been at least 8 $200 mil­lion biotech IPOs in the first half of 2020. That com­pares to 5 through all of 2019, ac­cord­ing to da­ta com­piled by Re­nais­sance Cap­i­tal.

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Martin Landray, Protas CEO (Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Those big bil­lion-dol­lar PhI­II stud­ies? Mar­tin Lan­dray says they can be done for a tiny frac­tion of the cost

Martin Landray knows what controversy in clinical drug development feels like, from first-hand experience.

Landray was the chief architect of RECOVERY, a study that pitted a variety of drugs against Covid-19. And he offered some landmark data that would help push dexamethasone out into broader use as a cheap treatment, while helping ice hydroxy’s reputation as a clear misfire.

“Lots of people told us we shouldn’t use it,” Landray says about dexamethasone and Covid-19. “It was dangerous. We shouldn’t even do a trial. They also cared about hydroxychloroquine and lots of people said we shouldn’t do a trial because it must be used. I’ve got the letters from both sets of people.”

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

FDA ap­proves one of the prici­est new treat­ments of all time — blue­bird's gene ther­a­py for be­ta tha­lassemia

The FDA on Wednesday approved the first gene therapy for a chronic condition — bluebird bio’s new Zynteglo (beti-cel) as a potentially curative treatment for those with transfusion-dependent thalassemia.

The thumbs-up from the FDA follows a unanimous adcomm vote in June, with outside experts pointing to extraordinary efficacy, with 89% of subjects with TDT who received beti-cel having achieved transfusion independence.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Geoffrey Porges, new Schrödinger CFO

Long­time an­a­lyst Ge­of­frey Porges de­parts SVB to lead fi­nances at a drug dis­cov­ery shop

Geoffrey Porges has ended his two-decade run as a biotech analyst, as the former SVB Securities vice chair began as CFO of Schrödinger on Thursday.

The long-running analyst, who previously headed up vaccines marketing at Merck before the turn of the millennium, will lead the financial operations of the 700-employee company as Schrödinger broadens its focus from a drug discovery partner to also building out an in-house pipeline, with clinical trial No. 1 set to begin next quarter.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

James Dentzer, Curis CEO

FDA lifts par­tial hold on Curis' lym­phoma study — shares spike

Four months after the FDA put two clinical trials from Curis on clinical hold, the FDA is now apparently content with how the biotech will change up managing one of the studies.

The Massachusetts oncology biotech put out word early Thursday that the federal regulator lifted a partial clinical hold of the company’s Phase I/II study of emavusertib in lymphoma, following a new data package that the biotech recently submitted to the agency. Shares of the biotech $CRIS, hovering just above penny stock territory, shot up more than 55% in early trading before settling at close to a 30% share price boost.

Astel­las' hot flash­es drug will get speedy re­view at FDA; US opts out of Val­ne­va vac­cine

The FDA will decide on Astellas’ menopausal symptom drug by Feb. 22 of next year, as the Japanese pharma disclosed it had paid about $97 million to get a priority review voucher to speed up the review.

Astellas said the agency has accepted the pharma’s application for fezolinetant for the treatment of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms (VMS) associated with menopause. VMS includes hot flashes and/or night sweats. The company said as many as 80% of women in the US experience those symptoms during or after the menopausal transition.

Joel Dudley, new partner at Innovation Endeavors (Bosch Health Campus)

For­mer Google CEO’s VC is mak­ing a big­ger push in­to the biotech world, hir­ing promi­nent Ther­a­nos skep­tic

Venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors has mainly had its focus on investments across the tech space, but it has been slowly turning its attention to the biotech world. Now, a new partner is coming into the fold showing that its interest in biotech is likely to grow further.

The Silicon Valley-based company, which is headed up by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, has brought on Joel Dudley as a partner. According to Dudley’s LinkedIn page, he is joining Innovation Endeavors after serving as the chief science officer of biotech startup Tempus Labs since 2020.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.