Cannabis patch startup pulls off a $42M IPO to fund drugs for epilepsy, pain

Zynerba CEO Armando Anido

Pennsylvania drugmaker Zynerba Pharmaceuticals ($ZYNE) is making its way to Wall Street with some cannabis-derived treatments for central nervous system disorders, raising $42 million in an IPO.

The company priced 3 million shares at $14 each, the middle of its range, and set aside another 450,000 shares for its underwriters to line up for as much as $51.8 million in total.

With the proceeds, Zynerba will press forward with a pair of early-stage transdermal patches that mete out cannabinoid chemicals to treat a host of CNS ailments. ZYN002, slated to enter clinical trials in the second half, has shown promise in refractory epilepsy, Fragile X syndrome and osteoarthritis pain, the company said. And ZYN001, in line for Phase I next year, targets fibromyalgia and peripheral neuropathic pain.

The promise of cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals has drawn a slew of companies to the field over the past few years, including GW Pharmaceuticals ($GWPH) and Insys Therapeutics ($INSY). But unlike its further-along competitors, Zynerba's treatments are synthetically manufactured and don't require growing and maintaining cannabis plants, which the company bills as a practical and financial advantage. Furthermore, Zynerba's transdermal therapies get their active ingredients straight into the circulatory system, avoiding the bioavailability issues that can plague oral treatments that must first navigate the stomach and liver.

Zynerba is led by CEO Armando Anido, appointed in 2014 after stints at the helm of Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, acquired by Endo Pharmaceutical ($ENDP) for about $2.6 billion, and NuPathe, which went to Teva ($TEVA) for $144 million last year.

Meanwhile, biotech's ongoing IPO boom has continued unabated into the second half of 2015, marked by a record debut for Patrick Soon-Shiong's NantKwest ($NK). And the queue of drug developers angling to go public remains full, as Zynerba joins a group including gene therapy outfit Gensight Biologics and food allergy biotech Aimmune Therapeutics.

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