Puma Biotech raises $138M in public offering to advance cancer drug from Pfizer

Puma Biotechnology ($PBYI) has pulled off a $138 million public stock sale on the heels of starting to trade on the NYSE last week. The company said on Thursday afternoon it sold more than 8.6 million shares for $16 per share, netting $129.1 million and adding to its coffers as the company readies for late-stage development of a potential breast cancer drug in-licensed from the drug giant Pfizer ($PFE) last year.

The Los Angeles-based biotech has made rapid progress on the financing and development fronts since beginning operations last year. Led by successful biopharma entrepreneur Alan Auerbach, who sold his last biotech for $1 billion, Puma sprang onto the cancer drug scene last October with a $55 million financing deal and a clinical-stage anticancer compound licensed from Pfizer's vast pipeline.

As Puma stated in a regulatory filing last month, the company has plans to advance its lead compound, dubbed PB272 or neratinib, into a Phase III study later this year or early next year in women with HER2-driven breast cancer who have failed prior treatment on existing HER2-targeting drugs such as Roche's ($RHHBY) blockbuster Herceptin. The close of the company's sizable stock sale considerably expands its financial resources as it embarks on the expensive late-stage study.

Auerbach seems to have little difficulty raising lots of cash even in difficult financial times for young biotech outfits. He sold his previous drug developer, Cougar Biotechnology, to Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) for a cool $1 billion in a deal that brought J&J its promising new prostate cancer drug Zytiga. After that deal in 2009, a lineup of investors--including Adage Capital Partners, Brookside Capital, H&Q Healthcare Investors, OrbiMed and others--have stepped up to back Puma.

- here's the release

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