A Medical Device Daily

Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB; Menlo Park, California) reported formation of a new $200 million fund, the KPCB Pandemic and Bio Defense Fund.

The goal of the fund, it said, “is to accelerate innovations for worldwide pandemic preparedness and global health over the next three years, with a focus on surveillance and detection, diagnostics, vaccines and drugs.“

KPCB said it would work with biotech companies, universities, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies worldwide, and other venture firms to back and encourage innovations in pandemic preparedness.

“We will invest in companies developing fundamentally new platforms for detection, prevention and treatment of global, pathogenic infectious diseases,“ said Brook Byers. “More than 15 million people worldwide die each year from infectious diseases. Over one-third of the world's population lacks access to essential drugs. This new fund addresses the immediate requirement for the science, pharmaceutical and government sectors to close significant gaps in global public health preparedness.“

John Doerr said, “We hope even a mild pandemic never recurs, but we must prepare for the worst.“ Innovations to address this, he added, “must be offered at universally affordable prices to the developing world.“

Beth Seidenberg, MD, said, “The 1918 pandemic resulted in more American deaths than any other event in our nation's history. The worldwide effects were even more staggering. Even today, ordinary annual influenza causes half a million deaths a year worldwide. Innovations for pandemic preparedness can help our neglected global public health system address potential pathogenic disease.“

The fund's first investment is in BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (Birmingham, Alabama), with a portfolio of products in development including Peramivir, an influenza antiviral drug candidate. Seidenberg has joined its board of directors.

KPCB began investing in and helping build life sciences companies in 1977 when it was the founding investor in Genentech (South San Francisco, California). Since then, the firm and its partners have backed about 100 life science companies working in every area of medicine, ranging from molecular diagnostics to cardiology.

Basic Care Networks (Marina Del Rey, California) has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering seeking up to $70 million. Details about the number of shares to be offered or an estimated price range weren't disclosed in the company's SEC filing.

The company was formed to acquire and operate a network of clinics to meet patients' basic healthcare needs. The company's clinics, it said, will provide family and general practice, pediatrics, internal medicine, physical therapy, rehabilitation and other healthcare services.

In its SEC filing, Basic Care Networks said its concept of basic healthcare “encompasses 'primary care' services, such as family and general practice, internal medicine and pediatrics, as well as physical therapy, rehabilitation and other basic services.“ It notes also that “basic care tends to serve as an entry point, and basic care practitioners often act as gatekeepers, to the medial system.“

Proceeds from the offering will be used for the company's $50 million acquisition of clinic chains, and to pay down about $1.8 million in outstanding principal and accrued interest under its secured promissory notes.

Basic Care Networks plans to acquire three clinic chains with 24 locations in Florida, New York and Texas. It also intends to buy additional clinic chains and improve efficiencies, as well as expand service offerings, add new locations and develop partnerships with other health organizations.

It says that it will operate primarily as a “retail-driven“ business and that its target customers are those “who need or desire convenience, who in some cases need immediate access, who do not have a regular primary care physician, or who might lack suitable provider alternatives.“ Its patient flow, it said, will be “independent of third-party payors.“

The shares are expected to be listed on the Nasdaq under the symbol BCNI.

In other financing activity, Baxter International (Deer- field, Illinois) reported that, as required by the terms of the contract for equity units issued in December 2002, the holders have satisfied their obligations to purchase shares of Baxter common stock. Baxter will issue about 35 million shares of common stock in exchange for about $1.25 billion in cash proceeds, used to retire a 5.75% Euro bond due in March, for share repurchases, and for other general corporate purposes. The settlement completes Baxter's obligations under the equity units.

“This marks the achievement of yet another important milestone in our efforts to strengthen our balance sheet and enhance our financial flexibility,“ said John Greisch, corporate vice president and CFO.

Baxter applies its expertise in the areas of medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

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