Mapi Pharma swings for $50M haul as oft-delayed IPO nears D-Day

Mapi Pharma has set the terms for its latest crack at listing on Nasdaq. The biotech, which set terms on its first IPO attempt back in April 2014, is aiming to round up around $50 million (€46 million) to bankroll development of its once-a-month version of Teva's ($TEVA) blockbuster Copaxone.

Mapi Pharma CEO Ehud Marom

Ness Ziona, Israel-based Mapi Pharma is pitching to sell its shares for between $15 and $17 a pop, a slightly higher price than it first set in 2014 and double what it eventually resorted to when its initial proposal failed to gain traction. After dropping the $8-a-share offer it put to investors in July 2014, Mapi rolled back its plans to go public and picked up $10 million in private investment, only to return with a revised F-1 last September. Now, in the 11th version of its F-1 filed with the SEC, Mapi Pharma has inched closer to finally pulling off its IPO.

If the IPO goes ahead as planned, a significant "if" given Mapi Pharma's track record and uncertainty about investor attitudes to biotech IPOs today, the Israeli biotech will net around $45 million, more than 70% of which will go into the development of the sustained-release version of Copaxone. The sum is expected to be sufficient to see Mapi Pharma through to the end of Phase III, at which point, if the data are solid, it would have the opportunity to enter the scrap for a slice of the market share held by Copaxone, which is already being whittled away, albeit slowly, by generic competition.

Mapi Pharma is planning to file an IND with the FDA this quarter, setting it up to get what it expects to be a single pivotal 30-month Phase III trial underway before the halfway point of the year. Data from the trial are due for publication in 2018. The timeline shows the toll the faltering fundraising efforts of the past 18 months have taken on the company. When Mapi Pharma first filed to go public, it was aiming to get the Phase III trial started in the third quarter of 2014. The nearly two-year delay in the start means the multiple sclerosis market could look very different by the time the study is over.

Management at Mapi Pharma are hoping patients, payers and healthcare professionals in 2018 and beyond will be receptive to the idea of a once-a-month Copaxone. Today, a three-times-weekly version of Copaxone is enabling Teva to retain market share in the face of generic competition from Novartis ($NVS), but the scrap is set to intensify between now and 2018 as copycats and innovators alike step up their activities.  

- read the F-1/A

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