Washington Editor

Guilford Pharmaceuticals Inc. is raising $27.4 million through a private placement of 4.8 million shares of its common stock for $5.67 apiece.

Also, the Baltimore-based company issued seven-year warrants to investors to purchase about 960,000 shares of common stock at an exercise price of $7.55 per share.

Guilford's stock (NASDAQ:GLFD) dipped 22 cents Wednesday to close at $5.81.

Proceeds from the private placement announced Wednesday are intended to support clinical advancement of both the Aggrastat Injection and the Aquavan Injection, Stacey Jurchison, Guilford's spokeswoman, told BioWorld Today.

Guilford purchased U.S. rights to Aggrastat from Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., in a deal valued at $84 million. Aggrastat (tirofiban hydrochloride) is indicated for all platelet-mediated cardiovascular diseases, including coronary artery, cerebrovascular and peripheral vascular disease. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 30, 2003.)

Launched in the U.S. in 1998 and available in 82 other countries, Aggrastat is a small molecule designed to inhibit platelet aggregation. Merck retains rights and markets Aggrastat outside the U.S.

Jurchison said that in mid-2004, Guilford plans to initiate a Phase III study of Aggrastat in percutaneous coronary intervention for the purpose of label expansion. Most of the proceeds from the private placement will be used for that program.

Around the same time, Guilford hopes to initiate a Phase III of Aquavan as a mild to moderate anesthetic for people undergoing procedures. Aquavan is a water-soluble prodrug of the approved sedative/hypnotic agent propofol. Jurchison said the company is looking to license out Aquavan rights outside the U.S.

In addition to Aggrastat, Guilford's other marketed product is the Gliadel Wafer, a dime-sized wafer comprised of a biodegradable polymer (polifeprosan 20) incorporating 7.7 mg of carmustine, a chemotherapeutic agent administered intravenously to treat a malignant glioma. It has been on the market for several years as an adjunct to surgery in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. Earlier this year, the FDA approved Guilford's request to sell the wafer as a first-line therapy for patients with high-grade malignant glioma. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 27, 2003.)

Jurchison said Guilford's guidance for 2003 estimates Gliadel Wafer sales will reach between $19 million and $20 million. At the end of the third quarter, Guilford had about $86 million in cash and 30 million outstanding shares. In July, Guilford closed an offering, raising $69.3 million through five-year subordinated notes convertible to common stock.