Genmab files for $500M IPO to fund multi-front cancer R&D push

Genmab plans to use the money to run clinical trials of seven assets. (Genmab)

Genmab has filed to raise up to $500 million (€448 million) in an IPO on the Nasdaq exchange. The huge offering will set Genmab up to take antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) tisotumab vedotin to market in cervical cancer while pushing other programs through the clinic.

Denmark’s Genmab spun off from Medarex in 1999 and listed its stock on two European exchanges the following year, raising around $233 million, which was a record for a biotech listing in the region at that time. The subsequent success of the company, which discovered Johnson & Johnson’s multiple myeloma star Darzalex, made it a perennial candidate for a Nasdaq listing. 

Now, with a pipeline of wholly owned and co-developed assets to advance, Genmab is turning to Nasdaq for a fundraising that will fuel its push to become a standalone, commercial-stage biopharma company. 

Development of tisotumab vedotin, a tissue factor-targeting ADC, will swallow up some of the cash. Genmab is co-developing the drug with Seattle Genetics. In March, the partners shared data linking the ADC to a 22% confirmed response rate in patients with advanced metastatic cervical cancer. The data emboldened Genmab to plot further development and the build-out of its commercial teams.   

Genmab plans to take tisotumab vedotin to market using the IPO funds and have enough left over to advance other clinical programs. Management plans to test tisotumab vedotin in other indications and run clinical trials of a clutch of wholly owned assets.

Anti-AXL ADC enapotamab vedotin, a CD3xCD20 bispecific antibody and HexaBody-DR5/DR5 are all in phase 1/2 trials that are scheduled to report initial data later this year. Genmab has earmarked some of the IPO money for ongoing development of enapotamab vedotin in solid tumor indications and the continuation of phase 1/2 trials of the other two assets.

The readouts are part of a busy 2019. Genmab is also planning to file to run phase 1/2 trials of three other drugs, namely bispecifics aimed at PD-L1x4-1BB. CD40x4-1BB and two non-overlapping epitopes on CD37.

If Genmab executes its 2019 strategy, it will emerge with a broad pipeline befitting its aspirations to establish itself as a midsized biopharma company. Genmab has evidence that drugs discovered and developed in its labs can go on to make a big impact, too, albeit when they are taken through the clinic and onto market by larger partners. 

Last year, Genmab posted revenues of $455 million, in large part due to the success of Darzalex. The J&J-partnered multiple myeloma drug delivered stellar data on its way to market. And, while a rival drug from Sanofi hit the mark in phase 3 earlier this year, there remains scope for J&J to significantly add to Darzalex’s already-blockbuster sales in the years to come.