By Brady Huggett

It¿s been a difficult year to raise money through public offerings ¿ that¿s not news. However, biotechnology companies with thick pipelines, companies deemed to be heading places, have managed to work the markets with success. Taking advantage of that, CV Therapeutics Inc. and Neurocrine Biosciences Inc. priced public offerings that raised nearly $300 million between them.

Neurocrine priced its offering of 3.5 million shares at $46.75 per share, bolstering its cash position by about $163.6 million. CV Therapeutics, for its part, priced 2.5 million shares at $52.50 apiece for proceeds of about $131.3 million.

For CV Therapeutics, the offering is its second of the year, having raised $100 million publicly in June. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company had about $353.5 million in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities as of Sept. 30, but with a Phase III trial ongoing for its atrial arrythmia product, CVT-510, and plans for a new drug application filing for its anti-anginal drug ranolazine in the third or fourth quarter of next year, the money is expected to be put to good use. (See BioWorld Today, June 8, 2001; July 2, 2001; and Nov. 15, 2001.)

CV also has CVT-3146, an A2A adenosine receptor agonist, in development for use as an adjunctive pharmacologic agent in cardiac perfusion imaging studies.

Neurocrine, with about $161 million in cash, cash equivalents, marketable securities and current receivables on Sept. 30, has a pipeline bustling with activity as well. It recently received a $15.5 million milestone payment from GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London, related to the companies¿ corticotropin-releasing factor receptor antagonists program; it just began a Phase III trial with NBI-34060, based on successful Phase I and Phase II results in chronic and transient insomnia; and stated it would begin a pivotal Phase IIb trial for NBI-6024 in Type I diabetes this quarter. Beneath that, the company has Phase I/II trials with NBI-3001 for glioblastoma and said it should initiate Phase I studies with NBI-3001 for renal, breast and non-small-cell lung cancer. Its compound NBI-34041 is in development for anxiety and depression and irritable bowel syndrome.

Of the companies the market has opened up for recently, ILEX Oncology raised about $120 million last month. That followed its purchase of Cambridge, Mass.-based Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc.¿s 33 percent of the approved Campath, a product developed in a 50-50 joint venture between the companies, which is designed to treat patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. ILEX has five compounds in development, including Eflornithine, in Phase III trials for superficial bladder cancer and familial adenomatous polyposis. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 31, 2001, and Nov. 16, 2001.)

ViroPharma Inc., of Exton, Pa., raised $82.8 million, also last month. The company filed its new drug application for the common cold antiviral Picovir on July 31 and the product is partnered with Aventis Pharmaceuticals, the U.S. division of Aventis Pharma AG, of Frankfurt, Germany. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 16, 2001.)

Also in November, ICOS Corp., of Bothell, Wash., raised $313 million publicly on the strength of anticipated approval of its erectile dysfunction drug, Cialis, partnered with Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, in a joint venture called Lilly ICOS LLC. ICOS also has two products in Phase III trials. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 9, 2001.)

And Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., after getting tremendous validation of its technology through a potential $400 million deal with Eli Lilly, raised about $115 million in late October. Isis has been busy since then, signing a deal with OncoGenex Technologies Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, for OGX-011, a preclinical antisense compound designed to boost the effectiveness of anticancer agents. Days later, Isis began a Phase III trial for its Crohn¿s disease drug, ISIS 2302. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 27, 2001, and Nov. 30, 2001.)

And now both CV Therapeutics and Neurocrine have priced solid offerings, showing there are buyers for companies with strong pipelines.

Underwriters for Neurocrine¿s offering have a 30-day option to purchase up to 525,000 shares to cover overallotments. Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown and Credit Suisse First Boston Corp., both of New York, are joint bookrunning managers for the financing. Co-managers are CIBC World Markets Corp., of New York; Lehman Brothers Inc., of New York; and UBS Warburg LLC, of Stamford, Conn.

CV Therapeutics¿ underwriters have an option to purchase up to 375,000 shares to cover overallotments. J.P. Morgan Securities Inc., of New York, and Robertson Stephens Inc., of San Francisco, are joint lead managers for the offering. Co-managers are Bear Stearns & Co. Inc., of New York; CIBC World Markets Corp., of New York; Morgan Stanley & Co. Inc., of New York; SG Cowen Securities Corp., of New York; U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray Inc., of Minneapolis; and First Albany Corp., of Albany, N.Y.

CV Therapeutics¿ stock (NASDAQ:CVTX) rose $2.80 to close at $55.85. Neurocrine¿s stock (NASDAQ:NBIX) rose $2.36 to close at $49.70.