BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - NicOx SA raised gross proceeds of €45.5 million through a private placement of new shares that were authorized by shareholders at an extraordinary meeting in June 2005.

The net proceeds are an estimated €43 million (US$54.7 million). The operation entailed the issue of about 4.6 million new shares reserved for 43 international institutional investors in both Europe and the U.S. that already invested in the biopharmaceutical sector.

The subscription price of the new shares was €10, including additional paid-in capital. They represented 14.2 percent of the issued share capital before the increase and 12.4 percent afterward. The settlement/delivery of the new shares took place May 3.

NicOx, of Sophia-Antipolis, France, said it will apply for the new shares to be listed on the Eurolist of the Euronext stock exchange in Paris.

NicOx, in March, signed an exclusive worldwide agreement with Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., for the joint development of new antihypertensive drugs using the French company's proprietary nitric oxide-donating technology.

NicOx received an up-front payment of €9.2 million and is eligible for potential further milestone payments of €279 million under the deal.

NicOx also has announced that it is to initiate another Phase III trial of HCT 3012, its nitric oxide-donating derivative of naproxen, to provide further proof of its efficacy in treating osteoarthritis.

HCT 3012 already is undergoing a Phase III trial for the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis, which is designed to demonstrate that the drug has no detrimental effect on blood pressure.

NicOx explained that the new trial is aimed at providing complementary data by describing the blood pressure effect of HCT 3012 and naproxen over 24 hours. It is to be carried out on 120 volunteers suffering from stable essential hypertension (high blood pressure) at 15 centers in the U.S.

The first subjects already have been enrolled and the results are expected in the fourth quarter.