Alexza Pharmaceuticals Inc. pushed through its initial public offering of 5.5 million shares at $8 per share, for gross proceeds of $44 million to support ongoing clinical development of drugs for acute indications.

The share price is lower than the $10 to $12 range set last month, which would have pulled in $60.5 million at the mid-point, and is just more than half of the $86.25 million anticipated when Alexza filed for the IPO in December. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 27, 2005.)

But the company’s shares, listed on Nasdaq under the symbol "ALXA," did well the first day of trading, gaining $.51 cents Wednesday to close at $8.51.

According to the company’s prospectus, Alexza expects net proceeds to total about $38.7 million - or $44.9 million if underwriters exercise in full the 825,000-share overallotment. Money will fund ongoing research and clinical development activities for its four lead product candidates, all of which are based on the company’s Staccato technology, designed to vaporize unformulated drug compounds into inhaled aerosol versions.

About $14 million has been earmarked for preclinical and clinical testing of AZ-001 (Staccato prochlorperazine), expected to begin a Phase IIb trial in the first half of 2006 in patients suffering moderate to severe acute migraine headaches. The company hopes to finish that trial and start a Phase III study within the next 18 months.

Approximately $11 million has been allocated for AZ-002 (Staccato alprazolam), set to begin a Phase IIa study in acute panic attacks associated with panic disorder. Behind that product is AZ-004 (Staccato loxapine), expected to start Phase IIa testing this year in schizophrenic patients suffering acute agitation, and AZ-003 (Staccato fentanyl), scheduled to enter the clinic during the first half of this year in acute pain.

For 2005, Alexza reported an overall net loss of $32.4 million. As of Dec. 31, 2005, the company had cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities totaling $38.4 million.

New York-based Piper Jaffray & Co. and San Francisco-based Pacific Growth Equities LLC are acting as joint book-running managers, while RBC Capital Markets and JMP Securities, both of New York, are acting as co-managers.

After the offering, the company will have about 22.6 million shares outstanding.

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