Washington Editor

Poniard Pharmaceuticals Inc. is raising $65.2 million in gross proceeds through a public stock offering.

The cancer-focused biopharmaceutical company, of South San Francisco, priced about 10.3 million common shares at $6.33 apiece in the deal. Poniard, which is selling all the shares, also granted the underwriters a 30-day overallotment option for a little more than 1.5 million additional shares.

A $75 million shelf registration statement was filed two months ago.

Members of the company's management team could not comment on the financing, per SEC rules, but a filing with the regulatory agency detailed their plans for the new money.

Poniard will direct the funding toward further developing its lead product candidate, picoplatin, which is in clinical trials for small-cell lung, metastatic colorectal and hormone-refractory prostate cancers. The company is eyeing a new drug application in 2009. Currently approved platinum-based therapies comprise a $2 billion worldwide market.

Initial Phase III testing of picoplatin, to be conducted in about 400 lung cancer patients under a special protocol assessment from the FDA, is scheduled to begin this quarter. Interim Phase II findings in the indication showed median overall survival of 26.7 weeks for the patients who received picoplatin, compared to 13 weeks to 14 weeks for similar patients treated with best supportive care, according to published literature. The next-generation platinum therapy is designed to overcome and prevent platinum resistance associated with chemotherapy in solid tumors, with an improved safety profile.

Full Phase II data in lung cancer are planned for presentation at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in June, as are interim safety findings from Phase I/II trials in colorectal and prostate cancers.

Picoplatin's exclusive North American and European rights were in-licensed three years ago from the former AnorMed Inc., which last year was bought out by Cambridge, Mass.-based Genzyme Corp. (See BioWorld Today, April 6, 2004.)

Poniard, formerly known as NeoRx Corp., will use additional funds for its earlier-stage research, which includes work to discover small-molecule, multitargeted protein kinase inhibitors, and for general corporate purposes such as working capital.

The company had 22.8 million shares outstanding as of April 11, as well as $44.3 million in cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash as of Dec. 31.

CIBC World Markets Corp. and Lazard Capital Markets LLC, both of New York, are acting as the offering's joint book-running managers. Co-managers include Pacific Growth Equities LLC, of San Francisco, Leerink Swann & Co. Inc., of Boston, and Fortis Securities LLC, of New York.

On Wednesday, Poniard's stock (NASDAQ:PARD) gained 44 cents to close at $6.80.

In other financing news:

• Altus Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., completed its $88.5 million public offering of 6 million common shares at $14.75 apiece. The company, which is focused on oral and injectable protein therapeutics for patients with gastrointestinal and metabolic disorders, offered all the shares. Altus also granted the deal's underwriters a 30-day, 900,000-share overallotment option. Merrill Lynch & Co. and Morgan Stanley & Co., both of New York, were the offering's joint book-running managers. Co-managers were Cowen and Co., also of New York, and Leerink Swann. (See BioWorld Today, April 20, 2007.)

• Elite Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Northvale, N.J., completed a private placement of $15 million to a group of institutional and other private investors through the issuance of 15,000 shares of its Series C preferred stock priced at $1,000 per share. Each share is initially convertible at $2.32 into 431.03 shares of common stock, or an aggregate of 6.5 million shares. Each purchaser also will receive a warrant to buy additional shares. Proceeds will be used to advance the company's portfolio of pain products and accelerate the development of other drug candidates. Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., of New York, acted as the lead placement agent.

• Innovive Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New York, closed a $15 million private placement of its common stock to generate working capital funds. More specifically, the financing provides the company with resources to continue to advance its hematology and oncology drug candidates. Paramount BioCapital Inc., also of New York, served as the sole placement agent in the transaction, which was completed with a number of leading health care-focused institutional and retail investors.

• Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, said it obtained commitments for an $11 million registered direct offering. The deal's terms call for the company, which is developing products for central nervous system disorders, cardiovascular disease, bone disease and other disorders, to sell a little more than 5.4 million common shares at $2.02 each to select institutional investors. The per-share price represents a 12.5 percent discount to the stock's value a day ahead of the sale's announcement. Closing will occur upon the receipt of approval of listing of the new shares, and satisfaction of other customary closing conditions. Rodman & Renshaw LLC, of New York, acted as the transaction's placement agent.

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