By Matthew Willett

Biopure Corp. entered a $75 million equity line stock purchase agreement with the Parisian bank Societe Generale that gives Biopure the option to draw funds as needed over the next 24 months.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Biopure said the equity line and its $71.3 million in cash and cash equivalents will fund operations through October 2003. The funding will be used to prepare for commercialization of Hemopure, the company¿s treatment for acute anemia in surgery patients. The therapy is also under development for cancer, trauma and other indications.

Each drawdown is limited to $3 million over a five-day period, or $4.5 million if the dollar trading volume of the company¿s stock increases.

Biopure¿s associate director of corporate communications, Doug Sayles, told BioWorld Today that the equity line means flexibility for Biopure.

¿We can control the timing, and we can control the amount. There¿s a lower discount rate, and we¿re under no obligation. The first thing is that we¿re trying to secure that we¿ll have operating capital for the next few years,¿ Sayles said. ¿We have estimated that we will be, according to our current operating plan, profitable by 2005, and we expect to begin generating some revenue over the next years.¿

Sayles said the company plans to submit a biologics license application for Hemopure in late summer. Hemopure already is approved in South Africa. Beyond that, he said, the company plans to start a Phase II trial for Hemopure in a trauma setting, and a Phase I safety trial of Hemopure as an adjunct to radiation therapy for treatment of brain tumors. He added the company would like to transition the brain tumor program into Phase II quickly.

Biopure reported a first-quarter net loss of $17.5 million. Its total revenues in the first quarter were $838,000, an 18 percent increase over the first quarter of 2000, attributable, the company said, to a 13 percent growth in U.S. sales of Oxyglobin, Biopure¿s veterinary drug for treatment of canine anemia.

As of April 30, Biopure had about 30 million shares outstanding. Its shares (NASDAQ:BPUR) rose $1.19 Friday, closing at $25.30.

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