By Randall Osborne

West Coast Editor

Although its offer price per share was lower than the stock when Praecis Pharmaceuticals Inc. registered in January, the company added units and will net about $150 million from the public offering.

Praecis, of Cambridge, Mass., sold 6.5 million shares for $24.562 each, and a selling stockholder let go of another 750,000 at the same price, with proceeds intended for a variety of purposes, said Kevin McLaughlin, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Cambridge, Mass.-based Praecis.

"There's a lot of focus on clinical trials," he said. "We have four products in the clinic now."

After underwriting discounts and expenses, Praecis will net $150.47 million from the 6.5 million shares. The amount rises to $175.78 million, if underwriters exercise an overallotment option for 1.087 million shares.

Along with the trials, proceeds will fund research and development, sales and marketing, and the production of abarelix drug products. A new drug application for abarelix depot-M, a gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonist, was accepted for filing by the FDA the day before Praecis registered for its offering. (See BioWorld Today, January 29, 2001.)

The drug, which blocks testosterone, is partnered with Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., in the U.S., Japan, Canada and Asia-Pacific regions. So is another abarelix depot drug, an estrogen suppressor for endometriosis, in Phase II/III trials.

"What we're really focused on now is the programs we have in house," McLaughlin told BioWorld Today.

In Phase II trials by Praecis is Latranal, for chronic back pain. Apan, to treat Alzheimer's disease, is undergoing a Phase I study. Further back in the pipeline are a CCR5 (chemokine receptor) antagonist for HIV, partnered with Human Genome Sciences Inc., of Rockville, Md., and nuclear factor kappa B, for inflammation.

After the offering, Praecis has 48.78 million shares outstanding. Underwriters of the financing are Credit Suisse First Boston Corp., Salomon Smith Barney Inc. and CIBC World Markets Corp., all of New York.

Praecis' stock (NASDAQ:PRCS) closed Thursday at $27.375, up $2.687, or 11 percent. n