By Randall Osborne
West Coast Editor
Aiming to bounce back from bad news last fall, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. registered to offer 4 million shares, which would raise about $199 million based on the opening price of $49.812 Monday, when the offering was disclosed.
The companys shares (NASDAQ:REGN) closed Tuesday at $47, down $3.625.
In September, Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G), of Cincinnati, gave up the rights to Tarrytown, N.Y.-based Regenerons Axokine, which the companies had been developing for obesity and diabetes. Preliminary Phase I trial results showed effective doses appeared safe only in patients who were herpes simplex virus-negative. Regenerons stock dropped 22 percent on the news. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 3, 1999, p. 1.)
P&G said it would finish the Phase I trial by the end of the year, with HSV-negative patients, and pledged to forge ahead with its 10-year research deal with Regeneron, begun in May 1997, when P&G agreed to spend $135 million on Regeneron over the next decade in drug development. (See BioWorld Today, May 14, 1997, p. 1.)
In the fourth quarter of last year, Regenerons revenue jumped to $13.1 million from $9.2 million in the same period of 1998, thanks to higher payments from the P&G deal.
Regeneron said it would begin a Phase II trial of Axokine in HSV-negative patients in the first quarter of this year, not seeking any other partners.
After the offering, Regeneron would have 36 million shares outstanding. Proceeds will be used for working capital and general corporate purposes, and the offering allows for up to 15 percent in overallotments that may be granted to underwriters Merrill Lynch & Co., Lehman Brothers, J.P. Morgan & Co. and Robertson Stephens.
Regenerons chief financial officer, Murray Goldberg, said the company could not comment because of the quiet period rule imposed by the SEC.
Axokine is a second-generation molecule related to ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF).
Research has found obese individuals have high circulating leptin levels, and CNTF or Axokine is believed to suppress appetite by activating the same intracellular signaling pathways as leptin. Axokine binds to the Axokine/CNTF receptor in the hypothalamus and stimulates the signaling pathways that suppress appetite and reduce body weight. In preclinical studies, Axokine suppressed appetite in mice.
Regeneron reported total revenues last year of $39.7 million, with a net loss of $23.1 million, and $93.6 million in cash and marketable securities on hand at the end of 1999.