Aerie Pharma jumps into IPO game with $58M pitch to investors

Aerie Pharmaceuticals is jumping into the big biotech IPO game. The biotech, which is developing new therapies for glaucoma and other eye diseases, has filed an S-1 with the SEC outlining plans to raise close to $58 million through an initial offering.

Aerie's lead program is AR-13324, a topical eye therapy that just wrapped a Phase IIb study and is being prepped for a pair of pivotal studies designed to spur their first regulatory approval. If successful, Aerie says it will go on to hire a sales team of 100 reps to market the drug in the U.S., while looking for partners to cover the rest of the world.

The Phase III program for the lead drug is expected to get started in the middle of 2014, just after a Phase IIb gets underway for a combination of the drug with the prostaglandin analogue latanoprost, which is currently used to treat glaucoma.

32 biotechs have now gone public so far this year, now that FivePrime priced its offering at $13 a share, raising $62 million. Just a little more than a year ago, Aerie would have been a prime example of the kind of biotech that would have found it hard, if not impossible, to go public. But this year, the industry saw a burst of IPOs that have inspired many others--including Aerie--to take their chances on investors' new-found appetite for risk.

Aerie's lead therapy is designed to treat glaucoma by increasing the outflow of fluid through a primary eye drain while also inhibiting the production of new fluid, reducing the level of intraocular pressure that causes the disease.

The biotech, which has operations in Bedminster, NJ, Research Triangle Park, NC and Newport Beach, CA, needs the cash. Aerie reports about $2.4 million of cash on hand after burning through $74 million on research. Its backers include Clarus Ventures, Sofinnova Ventures, Osage University Partners, Alta Partners and TPG Biotech.

- here's the S-1