$350M batch of biotech IPOs to test investors' appetite for risk

Just how much of an appetite is there for biotech IPOs? The industry may well find out over the next 8 days, with 6 new offerings slated to roll out. And 5 of them are expected to fall in a two-day period in the middle of next week.

The first half of the year saw the biggest surge of biotech offerings in a decade, easily eclipsing last year as 11 drug developers made it onto the market. So far this year, 22 biotech IPOs have made it out the gate. And this new batch would move the mark close to 30, with four more in the queue. If they are successful, they'll collectively raise about $350 million, a substantial add to the $1.4 billion already raised in IPOs so far this year.

OncoMed ($74M, OMED) is first up at bat with an IPO expected to run on Thursday. A couple of years ago Bayer struck a $387 million development pact with OncoMed for protein therapeutic programs targeting the Wnt pathway. The antibody OMP-18R5 was the first of these programs to make it into the clinic. OncoMed also struck a partnership deal with GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) back in 2007 on anticancer stem cell treatments. The developer has an early-stage project in its pipeline.

Then there's a big blast scheduled next Wednesday and Thursday as Onconova ($60M, ONTX, 7/25), Conatus ($55M, CNAT, 7/25), Cellular Dynamics ($57M, ICEL, 7/25), Heat Biologics ($27M, HTBX, 7/24), and Agios ($75M, AGIO, 7/23) are all slated to make their debuts. IPO dates are not set in stone, any more than share prices, and companies often shift dates as they angle for the most attention they can get from investors.

Also keep in mind that while the IPO market has been hot this year, with companies like Epizyme, ($EPZM) bluebird ($BLUE) and Chimerix all sizzling, a number of biotechs were still forced to offer some big discounts to get investors interested.

For many analysts, the question now is where does this romp end? It took four years for the IPO window to open after the 2008 financial crisis. And it could close with a bang when investors once again take flight from the kind of extraordinary risk drug development entails. These companies plan to make the leap before that happens. 

- here's the list of expected IPOs from Nasdaq

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