Evolus plans $75M IPO to bring Botox biosimilar to market

Evolus has filed for a $75 million IPO. The financing will position Evolus to challenge Allergan’s grip on the wrinkle-busting sector by bringing a biosimilar copy of Botox to market in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Irvine, California-based Evolus has taken its rival to Botox, DWP-450, through three phase 3 trials since it picked up the rights to the program from South Korea’s Daewoong in 2013. Two of the phase 3 trials showed DWP-450 is better than placebo at reducing wrinkles, while the third suggested it holds its own against Botox. In the Botox comparison trial, 87% of patients who received DWP-450 responded, compared to 83% of subjects who took Allergan’s blockbuster.

Evolus filed for approval in the U.S., European Union and Canada using the data. The first regulatory decision is due by May 15, the PDUFA date set by the FDA. A decision in Europe is expected to follow in the second half of the year.

With Evolus closing in on approvals in key markets, it is seeking $75 million from public investors to support its attempt to go up against Allergan’s drug and associated marketing machine. Some of the cash will enable Evolus to complete the regulatory approval processes. Almost $14 million will go to Daewoong in post-approval milestone payments. And the rest will equip Evolus to run marketing campaigns and build a sales force.

These tasks will transform Evolus. As of the end of September, Evolus had 22 employees, half of whom worked part time at the company. Evolus’ plan envisages the creation of an initial 65-person sales team. Over time, Evolus expects to grow the sales team to 150 people. The company’s ability to manage that rapid growth will influence how big a threat it poses to Allergan.

Evolus’ ability to perform these tasks at all is dependent on the IPO. The biotech’s filing with the SEC states it has no cash as it is entirely dependent on its parent company, Alphaeon, which is itself majority owned by SCH-AEON. The post-IPO spending plan factors in some support from Alphaeon. But Evolus needs public investors to step up to secure the future of DWP-450 up to the initial commercialization stage.