Biotechs bag $170M in IPO cash as a booming quarter winds down

Drug developers Akebia Therapeutics ($AKBA) and MediWound ($MDWD) banked a combined $170 million in their Wall Street debuts, stacking cash for their lead programs and taking advantage of a banner quarter for biotech IPOs.

Cambridge, MA's Akebia dialed up its offering by 20% to raise $100 million, selling about 5.9 million shares at a top-of-the-range $17 each. With the raise, Akebia plans to accelerate the development of AKB-6548, a once-a-day oral anemia drug. The treatment is working through a Phase IIb trial in patients with anemia secondary to chronic kidney disease, and Akebia figures its newfound funding will get the drug into Phase III in that indication and pay for a Phase II study in idiopathic anemia of aging.

Israeli outfit MediWound cleared $70 million at the low end of its range, dishing out 5 million shares to fund Phase III trials for its topical burn treatment, NexoBrid. The gel is already available in Europe as a wound-clearing solution for thermal burns, and the biotech is working through a mid-stage trial of the drug for chronic wounds and a preclinical program in connective tissue diseases.

The two pricings make for 26 successful biotech IPOs in the first quarter alone, a bracing start to the year that has put billions of dollars in the pockets of drug developers, medical device outfits and diagnostics companies. After bullish investors ushered nearly 40 life sciences companies onto the public markets in 2013, many feared biotech had found its way into another bubble nigh on bursting, and early-year rumors that more than 25 outfits were queuing up for Q1 debuts did little to assuage the worry.

Yet here we are. Despite some shoulder-to-shoulder weeks full of biotech IPOs, the class of 2014 has posted promising returns on Wall Street, led by the skyrocketing Dicerna ($DRNA) and Ultragenyx ($RARE) and paced by February successes like Auspex ($ASPX) and Revance Therapeutics ($RVNC).

And the quarter's not over just yet. Versartis, which up-sized its offering in search of $126 million, is expected to price this month, and Cerulean may seal its planned $75 million pitch before April. Meanwhile, a bevy of hopefuls is lined up behind them, including Signal Genetics, Agile Therapeutics, Aldeyra Therapeutics and GlobeImmune, companies seeking a combined $158 million.

- here's Akebia's release
- get MediWound's statement