The 10 biotech IPOs of 2011

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Anyone hoping to see a strong year for biotech IPOs last year was sorely disappointed. A paltry 10 U.S. companies went public last year, down from 13 in 2010.

The biggest IPO of 2011 was Clovis Oncology, which raised $130 million to finance a pipeline of oncology drug programs. The developer debuted at the low end of its range--an accomplishment in a year when so many companies had to slash their share prices--and continues to trade in the middle of its range. Runner-up Sagent Pharmaceuticals, which markets 22 products, has also bucked the tepid-IPO trend. The developer's stock is trading above $20 after a strong start at $16.

The going isn't so good for many of the remaining companies on this list. A majority are trading below their opening price, which in many cases was already significantly lower than their targeted range. These days, it's not that biotech companies can't go public; it's that they have to be willing to take a significant cut to do so, and many developers aren't ready to make that sacrifice.

Biotech's IPO drought is likely to continue through 2012. Concerned about the lack of an IPO window for development-stage biotechs, Alnylam CEO John Maraganore, GlaxoSmithKline's Moncef Slaoui and retired investment banker Stelios Papadopoulos recently wrote an op-ed in BioCentury calling for Big Pharma to invest in biotech IPOs. But for now, biotechs will have to continue to rely on venture backers and Big Pharma's endless appetite for new drug programs to bankroll development.

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