Washington Editor

Novavax Inc. raised about $27.7 million in a public offering of 4.5 million shares of its common stock at a price of $6.15 per share.

The public offering provides Novavax with necessary funds to launch Estrasorb (estradiol topical emulsion), an estrogen therapy approved by the FDA in mid-October as a treatment for short-term use to reduce moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes) in menopausal women, Nelson Sims, president and CEO of Columbia, Md.-based Novavax, said. Sims also indicated the proceeds will be used to support other products in the development stage using Novavax's micellar nanoparticle proprietary technology platform.

Novavax's stock (NASDAQ:NVAX) rose 22 cents Thursday to close at $6.40.

The offering, expected to close Nov. 17, is being made from a shelf registration statement for up to $50 million, which became effective in August. C.E. Unterberg Towbin Syndicate, of New York, is acting as underwriter for the offering.

At the close of the quarter ended Sept. 30, Novavax had about $6 million in cash and cash equivalents with a burn rate of $1 million a month. Prior to the offering, the company had about 30 million shares outstanding.

Total revenues for the third quarter were $4.3 million, compared to third-quarter 2002 revenues of $2.3 million. Revenues included $3.6 million in product sales, compared to $1.8 million in the prior year, a 100 percent increase.

Sales benefited from the introduction of the company's two new prenatal vitamin products, NovaStart and NovaNatal, the company said in its financial report. Other products are Gynodiol, an oral form of estrogen therapy; AVC Cream, for vaginal bacterial infections; Analpram HC, a prescription corticosteroid and antipruritic product for hemorrhoids; and Nestabs, a vitamin for use before, during and after pregnancy.

The net loss for the third quarter was $3.4 million, or 11 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $6.9 million, or 28 cents per share in the year-prior period.

Novavax and partner King Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Bristol, Tenn., expect to launch Estrasorb in the first quarter of 2004, with 65 sales people from Novavax and King's 80-person women's health sales force.

Sims told BioWorld Today the agreement between Novavax and King essentially amounts to a 50-50 split (in the U.S. and Puerto Rico), under which Novavax will book sales while both firms share manufacturing costs. Each firm pays its own marketing and sales costs, and will split profits evenly. King has rights to Estrasorb in Europe, and will be responsible for regulatory filing. Novavax will receive royalties from European sales.

Beyond Estrasorb, Novavax is developing Androsorb, a topical testosterone emulsion that has completed Phase I trials. Sims said King has the first right of refusal to that product.

Estrasorb and Androsorb were developed using the micellar nanoparticle drug delivery platform. The technology involves the use of patented oil and water emulsions that Novavax believes can be vehicles for the topical delivery of a variety of drugs and other therapeutic products, including hormones.