BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - MedPharma plc postponed its proposed flotation by a month after failing to attract sufficient interest by the proposed impact day of last Thursday. The urology specialist is the first biotech company in the UK to attempt an initial public offering in 2003, and the news is a blow to the UK sector as a whole, which is frantic for the public markets to reopen.

Tim Cofman, of Hoodless Brennan and Partners, brokers to the flotation, told BioWorld International that there had been "some slippage" because of the Easter holidays and MedPharma executives being away at a urology conference.

"It has been difficult to get in to see people because they were on holiday," he said. "At the moment we are going through the institutions. There are still some to see, and of course they all want time to think about it."

The company's proposed public offering on London's Alternative Investment Market is aiming to raise £8 million (US$12.8 million) net of expenses.

MedPharma, based in Charlbury, Oxfordshire, has six sexual dysfunction and urology products in its portfolio, including Roche BDM, a treatment for bladder dysfunction in males and females, being developed in a joint venture with F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. The company's strategy is to de-risk development by buying into products that have completed Phase I and outlicensing them at the end of Phase II.

The £8 million would allow the company to accelerate Phase II studies and begin to outlicense the most advanced products in the portfolio before the end of this year. MedPharma has said it would not need to raise any more money before it reaches profitability.

The postponement means BioProgress plc, of March, UK, a drug delivery specialist, could become the first successful UK biotech flotation of 2003 if it succeeds in a proposed £2 million IPO at the end of this month.