Mapi Pharma closes $10M Series A round after two scuttled IPOs

Mapi Pharma has closed a $10 million (€9 million) Series A round to finance mid-phase trials of its once-a-month version of Teva's ($TEVA) blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug, Copaxone. The round follows two aborted attempts to raise cash in a Nasdaq IPO.

Mapi Pharma CEO Ehud Marom

Ness Ziona, Israel-based Mapi Pharma tried and failed to list on Nasdaq twice last year, despite slashing its fundraising goal and market capitalization in half for its second attempt. Having got the message from public investors, Mapi Pharma has turned to private financiers to give it the cash to take its once-a-month Copaxone copy to the cusp of Phase III. Mapi Pharma currently plans to kick off a 920-person Phase III trial in the first quarter of next year, setting it up for a possible approval in the U.S. in 2019.

At some point along the way Mapi Pharma is going to need more money, and the identity of the lead investor in the Series A round suggests it will try to IPO yet again. Shavit Capital led the round. The private equity fund's model is to invest in mezzanine rounds that set companies up for an IPO in the near future. A third run at Nasdaq or a listing on another exchange are both possibilities, Mapi Pharma CEO Ehud Marom told Globes. Marom, who worked on Copaxone during his time at Teva, invested his own money in the Series A round.

Whether anyone else is willing to back the company--or a partner is interested in bankrolling the Phase III trial--depends on a mix of the mid-stage study data and Mapi Pharma's ability to convince people its Copaxone copy can carve out a piece of the multiple sclerosis market. The competitive indication is likely to look even more crowded come 2019, by which time generic versions of Copaxone are likely to have driven prices through the floor and new innovative drugs from the likes of Biogen ($BIIB) and Teva may have come to market.

- read the release
- here's Globes' article