Acacia looks to a $230M IPO in London as it steers through PhIII

Last fall, Acacia Pharma's virtual crew cheered the late-stage success of a drug designed to prevent postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) by bringing in strategic advisers to help hammer out a path forward. And evidently, they concluded that setting out to raise $230 million on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) was the right way to go.

The Financial Times' Andrew Ward reported that the company plans to unveil their float later today, citing sources on the total amount the company is shooting for.

If the Cambridge, U.K.-based company makes it through this next stage with its plans intact, it will mark one of the largest biotech IPOs in the country in recent years, rivaling Circassia's $300 million coup 18 months ago. And it will help support industry boosters who have been thrilled to see new funds and investors coming into the U.K. biotech market after a lengthy drought in financing that followed the collapse of a string of notable drug developers.

Last October, Acacia CEO Julian Gilbert told FierceBiotech that while the biotech made it through a Phase III study on their own, they didn't have enough money to start commercializing the drug. At that point, they decided to bring in J.P. Morgan Cazenove to provide some advice on a possible sale, licensing deal or IPO move.

In their Phase III trial, investigators tracked a 19.4% risk reduction in PONV, a sharp plunge from the results seen in earlier, and much smaller, studies sponsored by Acacia.

Their lead drug is an IV formulation of the antipsychotic amisulpride. And while it's completed several trials, Acacia says it's also studying the drug in combination with other antiemetics as it positions itself for an FDA filing in the second half of next year.

Acacia's move will also focus more attention on the LSE, which has had to compete with Nasdaq for biotech IPOs. While Adaptimmune ($ADAP) wound up following the classic U.S. track, raising a crossover round and then leaping into the market, others like Shield Therapeutics have stuck with the home exchange. Even some U.S. companies, like California's Verseon, have made the trek to the LSE for a listing.

- here's the FT story (sub. req.)