Axsome pulls off a $51M IPO to bankroll its Phase III pain drug

New York City biotech Axsome Therapeutics ($AXSM) raised $51 million in an IPO to support its work on a nonopioid treatment for chronic pain.

The company moved about 5.7 million shares at $9 apiece, hitting the Nasdaq on Thursday and closing its first day of trading down about 3%. The company set aside another 850,000 shares for its underwriters to cover overallotments, setting its maximum deal value at nearly $60 million.

With the proceeds of its IPO, Axsome is working through Phase III development with AXS-02, an oral treatment designed to block the formation of bone-remodeling cells and thereby relieve osteo-related pain. The drug is in the midst of late-stage development in complex regional pain syndrome, and Axsome plans to launch Phase III trials in osteoarthritis of the knee and chronic lower back pain next year.

Behind its lead asset is AXS-05, a fixed-dose combination of the generic cough suppressant dextromethorphan and depression treatment bupropion, sold as Wellbutrin. Axsome is planning to start a Phase III study of AXS-05 in treatment-resistant depression in the first quarter of 2016. The company also has an early-stage chronic pain treatment in preclinical development.

Meanwhile, biotech's long streak of frothy IPOs has largely slowed in recent months, as debutantes have accepted deep discounts on the way to Wall Street and would-be public companies have been forced to abandon their plans altogether.

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