Washington Editor

Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. raised about $44 million through the sale of 3.6 million shares at $13 each.

Proceeds from the offering will support general corporate purposes, including additional clinical trials for the company's lead products, pexelizumab and eculizumab.

Leonard Bell, CEO of Cheshire, Conn.-based Alexion, told BioWorld Today company officials are pleased with the outcome of the financing, saying there were a limited number of suitable investors who approached the firm, and "we are encouraged by their support."

Alexion reported $200 million in cash July 31 and outstanding shares of 18.2 million at that time

Alexion's stock (NASDAQ:ALXN) closed Friday at $15.13, up 63 cents.

The company is working to develop anti-inflammatory therapies for cardiovascular, autoimmune and hematological disorders.

Alexion and partner Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, an affiliate of Procter & Gamble Co., of Cincinnati, are developing pexelizumab, Alexion's C5 complement inhibitor, for several acute cardiovascular indications such as heart bypass surgery, heart attack and angioplasty. When signed in early 1999, the deal was valued at upward of $95 million. Since then, the companies have renegotiated, giving Alexion more responsibility in the U.S. and more profit potential. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 27, 1999, and Dec. 13, 2001.)

Bell said the company is scheduled to release top-line data from a Phase III trial of pexelizumab in coronary artery bypass graft surgery at the upcoming American Heart Association meeting in November.

A preliminary analysis of the trial last month indicated that Alexion had just missed the primary endpoint, sending the company's stock tumbling 21.8 percent, or $3.49, to close at $12.51. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 6, 2003.)

The 3,000-patient trial, named Pexelizumab for Reduction in Infarction and Mortality in Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery or PRIMO-CABG, didn't quite hit the primary endpoint: reducing death and myocardial infarction at 30 days in patients undergoing CABG who were not undergoing valve surgery at the same time.

When asked about the trial Friday, Bell told BioWorld Today actual numbers associated with the trial had not been publicized. However, he said, Alexion is excited and encouraged by the data set for release in November.

In a Phase II study, pexelizumab, a humanized single-chain antibody fragment, hit borderline statistical significance for patients who underwent valve surgery and those who did not, in reducing death and myocardial infarction.

Also, Bell said Alexion expects to have data in a Phase IIb trial of eculizumab in rheumatoid arthritis later this year. The company has completed a Phase Ib of eculizumab in paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria and has completed earlier clinical studies in dermatomyositis, psoriasis and lupus.

Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc., of New York, acted as the lead manager in Alexion's offering.