By Brady Huggett
Since its founding in 1994, Discovery Therapeutics Inc. has managed to get five products into the clinic on a paltry $12 million budget. On Tuesday it announced the closing of its fourth round of financing, raising $45 million.
¿This round closed in the middle of August,¿ said Kenneth Rice, vice president and chief commercial officer at Discovery. ¿We did it in a very difficult market so we think it was a remarkable accomplishment.¿
The funds, Rice said, will be used to continue the development of its clinical products, to add employees to the 21 it has now and possibly to look at in-licensing and acquisitions over the next couple of years.
Discovery is burning through about $600,000 a month at its current pace, Rice said, so the funding could last the Richmond, Va.-based company on the order of three to four years, if necessary. But it shouldn¿t have to last that long.
¿Our goal is not to do that,¿ Rice told BioWorld Today from the UBS Warburg Global Life Sciences Conference in New York. ¿Our goal is to pursue additional funding, but we want to do that in the public market.¿
Rice said Discovery was valued at about $110 million, post-money, by investors. The Palladin Group, of New Jersey, led the financing. Schroder Ventures International Life Sciences, of Boston; International Biotechnology Trust plc, of London; New York Life Bioventures, of New York; China Development Industrial Bank, of Taiwan; MDS Capital Corp., of Toronto; The NeoMed Fund, of Norway; Temasek Capital, of Singapore; Singapore BioInnovations, also of Singapore; and Sanderling BioMedical Ventures, of Menlo Park, Calif., also participated.
Discovery fights disease with small-molecule drugs designed to either block or enhance the regulatory activity of certain proteins. It has synthesized small-molecule analogues of signal molecules to act on individual receptor subtypes. Two of its five products in clinical development are nearing Phase III trials.
SPM-962, for Parkinson¿s disease, has completed Phase II trials. The product is a transdermal dopamine patch and is partnered with Schwarz Pharma AG, of Monheim, Germany. It should enter Phase III later this quarter, Rice said.
¿What makes it unique is its delivery method,¿ Rice said. ¿Since it¿s once a day, [patients] can go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning and still be on the drug.¿
Its second late-stage product, MRE-0470, is a replacement product for adenosine and is designed to be used as a cardiac diagnostic. Its benefits over adenosine, Rice said, include no side effects and a longer half-life. The product is partnered with King Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Bristol, Tenn. Like SPP-962, this product should be in Phase III trials by the end of the year, Rice said.
Behind that, Discovery has DTI-0026 for the indication glomerulonephritis. The product was acquired from Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany, and is in Phase I/II trials, Rice said.
Also it has DTI-0017 in Phase I for congestive heart failure and DTI-0009 in Phase II trials for patients with atrial fibrillation. Fujisawa Healthcare Inc., of Deerfield, Ill., has the rights for the intravenous formulation of DTI-0009 in the United States.
Discovery takes a serious interest in its products, even the ones it licenses out, Rice said, saying ¿we treat these drugs like people treat their children being educated. We are very involved with our partners.¿
With that attitude, the coming year looms big for Discovery.
¿We plan to see that our partners complete the Phase IIIs next year,¿ Rice said. ¿We want to maintain the readiness we already have to take the company public ¿ if the markets open we will be ready to take advantage of it.
¿For the first time in our history, we have sufficient cash to be unfettered in the way we want to develop our drugs.¿