IPOs: FibroGen comes up big while NeuroDerm limps out of the gate

Biotech's protracted IPO boom is littered with high-dollar successes and deeply discounted close calls, making Friday's pricings microcosmic as FibroGen ($FGEN) staged an upsized debut and NeuroDerm ($NDRM) took a considerable haircut.

Fibrogen, at work on an oral anemia therapy and an antibody for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), priced 8.1 million shares at $18 each, coming through near the top of its expected range and grossing $146 million. Israel's NeuroDerm, on the other hand, came in well below its previously expected $13 to $16 a share, moving 4.5 million units at $10 each to bring in $45 million for its Parkinson's disease treatments.

For Fibrogen, a 2013 Fierce 15 honoree, the new cash will support the development of FG-3019, an antibody for connective tissue growth factor, which is integral to the fibrosis process. The treatment is in the midst of a Phase II trial on IPF, a deadly disease that leaves scars on the lungs, and would compete with recently approved drugs from Boehringer Ingelheim and Roche ($RHHBY) in what is expected to be a blockbuster market. The biotech's most advanced asset is roxadustat (FG-4592), a Phase III pill for anemia whose promise convinced AstraZeneca ($AZN) to commit as much as $1.6 billion in exchange for U.S. and Chinese rights and Astellas to promise up to $917.6 million in an agreement that covers Japan, Europe and the Middle East.

NeurDerm's fundraise will support ND0612H and ND0612L, two mid-stage products that mete out respective high and low doses of the Parkinson's treatments levodopa and carbidopa. Using a belt-worn pump, NeuroDerm's devices continuously administer a liquid form of the combo, replacing the invasive surgical procedures often required for particularly severe patients, according to the company. Tapping its IPO haul and a $16 million funding round closed in August, NeuroDerm plans to roll both devices into Phase III next year, hoping to win U.S. and European approvals in 2018.

Meanwhile, the cheers-and-jeers reception for biotech IPOs continues. More than 70 drug developers have gone public in 2014, but the frothy valuations of the early year have long since subsided, leaving many market entrants to either accept painful discounts to their planned prices or put off their offerings altogether.

And success is hardly guaranteed for those who manage to make it out of biotech's tightening window. Last month, Forward Pharma ($FWP) pulled off one of the year's biggest debuts with a $221 million raise only to see its shares drop sharply that very morning. Dermira ($DERM) suffered a similar fate a few weeks before, joining a list of postpricing laggards that includes Foamix ​Pharmaceuticals ($FOMX) and Auris Medical ($EARS).

- read FibroGen's release
- here's NeuroDerm's statement

Special Report: FierceBiotech's 2013 Fierce 15 - Fibrogen

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