Eager biotechs eye $133M in IPOs as a frenzied quarter closes

Three more drug developers are angling to go public in the waning days of a bustling first quarter for biotech IPOs, swinging for a combined $133 million to bankroll their programs. Agile Therapeutics, Aldeyra Therapeutics and GlobeImmune have all queued up for Wall Street debuts, hoping 2014's bull market lasts long enough to pull off offerings.

Princeton, NJ's Agile is chasing $69 million in its planned IPO, looking to trade on the Nasdaq under "AGRX" and get its contraceptive patch on the U.S. market. AG200-15, branded as Twirla, is a once-weekly combination of estrogen and progestin that Agile believes can beat out existing products in ease of use and patient adherence. The patch is in the midst of a Phase III study with data expected next year, and, if the drug wins approval, Agile figures it can amass a sales force and launch on its own, tapping an estimated $5.6 billion domestic market.

Next, Colorado immunotherapy developer GlobeImmune is back in the IPO game after repeated delays and an aborted $74.8 million offering, now pitching a $35 million public offering to get one of its infectious disease candidates into Phase II. GlobeImmune's pipeline revolves around its development platform, Tarmogen--short for targeted molecular immunogens--and the company's programs have attracted some big-name attention, with Gilead ($GILD) funding early development of its hepatitis B vaccine and Celgene ($CELG) joining in for the cancer vaccine GI-4000. The biotech plans to spend $15 million of its potential haul on taking an undisclosed infectious disease treatment into mid-stage development, using the rest to invest in clinical and commercial manufacturing.

Finally, Aldeyra Therapeutics (formerly Aldexa) has lined up an offering that could bring in as much as $28.8 million to advance its anti-inflammation candidate in a host of indications. NS2, the company's sole prospect, is slated for a Phase III study in the rare Sjögren-Larsson syndrome; Phase II trials in discoid lupus, acute anterior uveitis and ocular rosacea; and a Phase I study to test the safety of an oral formulation of the drug. Aldeyra expects to report out data from each study by the second half of 2015, and the company figures its IPO haul will keep the doors open for at least two years.

The trio joins a bevy of biotechs looking to cash in on Wall Street at the tail end of the first quarter. Last week, Ignyta ($RXDX), Dipexium Pharmaceuticals ($DPRX) and Galmed Pharmaceuticals ($GLMD) banked $119 million to fund their operations, and Cerulean, Versartis and Akebia Therapeutics are expected to price their initial offerings before the end of March.

The first quarter of 2014 is shaping up to be the most bountiful since the IPO boom began last year. So far, 24 life sciences companies have priced first offerings in the new year, and despite January concerns that the biotech bubble's days were numbered, the industry's returns have mostly been positive. Dicerna ($DRNA) and Ultragenyx ($RARE) have each more than doubled their share values since going public in January, while Auspex ($ASPX) and Revance Therapeutics ($RVNC) have soared since going public last month, and each of March's biotech debutantes is trading at least 10% above its pricing.

- here's Agile's filing
- check out GlobeImmune's S-1
- and Aldeyra's statement