Dermira pulls off a $125M IPO as biotechs wax and wane on Wall Street

Skin treatment developer Dermira ($DERM) came through with a top-of-the-range IPO, banking $125 million to support its pipeline and charting a rare success in the increasingly volatile market for biotech debuts.

The Redwood City, CA, company sold about 7.8 milion shares at $16 each, boosting its offering by 45% to get the cash it needs. Dermira has set aside another 1.2 million shares to cover over-allotments, setting its maximum deal value at about $144 million.

With the proceeds, Dermira plans to push its stable of skin drugs toward the market, touting a pipeline led by the UCB-partnered Cimzia. The TNF blocker is already on the market as an anti-inflammatory, and the partners are working together to get it approved for psoriasis.

Behind that is DRM04, a treatment for hyperhidrosis--or excessive sweating--that is currently in the midst of two Phase IIb trials with data expected next year; and DRM01, a Phase IIa acne treatment due for clinical results this quarter. Rounding out the biotech's pipeline are DRM02, a topical treatment for inflammatory skin disease that has completed Phase II proof-of-concept work; and DRM05, a preclinical drug that uses a novel mechanism to treat acne.

The company, founded in 2010, closed a $51 million C round in August from a stable of investors including Bay City Capital, New Enterprise Associates, Canaan Partners and UCB. Over four years, Dermira has raised $128 million in VC funds.

Meanwhile, the climate for biotech IPOs remains hard to nail down. Earlier this week, cancer biotech Calithera Biosciences ($CALA) accepted a deep discount on the way to its $80 million debut, one of the many bullish biotechs forced to lower their expectations.

Since the early days of 2014, when scores of drug developers pocketed billions and swung as many as 10 debuts a week, things have tightened up, with Wall Street increasingly wary of risky biotech startups. Many IPO hopefuls have had to put off or cancel their offerings altogether, while others have been forced to accept deep discounts to get the listings they desire.

But that hasn't stopped the flow of entrants. Over the past week, FibroGen, Forward Pharma and S1 Biopharma have all lined up to go public, joining a lengthy queue of drugmakers hoping the IPO window will stay up through the fall.

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