By Randall Osborne

West Coast Editor

On the heels of an FDA panel¿s blessing for Natrecor (nasiritide), Scios Inc. plans to raise about $115.8 million through a shelf registration filed in January.

After the offering of 5 million shares, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Scios will have 44.62 million shares outstanding.

The company is in a quiet period as required by the Securities and Exchange Commission, but said in its SEC filing that net proceeds of the offering are based on an assumed price of $24.56 per share, after underwriting discounts, commissions and offering expenses are deducted. The stock has traded as high as $30.50 and as low as $12.50 this year.

If underwriters buy another 750,000 shares in overallotments, proceeds from the offering will be about $133.3 million, Scios said. The money will be used for operating costs, capital expenditures and working capital needs, including outlay associated with Natrecor.

Last Friday, the Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of Natrecor for acute congestive heart failure.

After a mixed vote by an advisory panel in 1999, the FDA turned down the drug because of safety and dosing concerns, but Scios conducted more trials to satisfy the agency¿s questions about hypotension as a side effect. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 1, 1999; April 29, 1999; and May 29, 2001.)

Acute congestive heart failure is the most frequent cause of hospitalization among Medicare patients, and the five-year mortality rate for the condition is about 50 percent.

If all goes well for Scios this time around with the FDA, Natrecor, a recombinant form of human B-type natriuretic peptide, would be the first new drug approved for acute CHF in more than a decade.

Scios hopes to launch the drug in the third quarter, having signed with Quintiles Transnational Corp., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., in January to handle marketing. Scios filed the shelf registration the same month. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 12, 2001, and Jan. 22, 2001.)

Underwriters for the offering are JP Morgan, of San Francisco; Lehman Brothers, of New York; and SG Cowen Securities Corp., of New York. Scios¿ shares (NASDAQ:SCIO) closed Wednesday at $23.90, down $1.31.

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