Triangle Offering Grosses $52M For HIV, Hepatitis Programs

Triangle Offering Grosses $52M For HIV, Hepatitis Programs

By Mary Welch

Triangle Pharmaceuticals Inc. raised more than $52 million through the sale of 3.5 million shares at $15 per share to support clinical trials of its anti-HIV drugs.

When the Durham, N.C., company registered for the offering in March, it proposed selling 3 million shares and its stock was trading at $16.187. Triangle sold 500,000 more shares than expected, boosting gross proceeds to $52.5 million. The company (NASDAQ:VIRS) ended Thursday at $15.937, up $0.687.

Following the offering, Triangle has about 23.5 million shares outstanding.

Underwriters were SBC Warburg Dillon Read Inc. and Bear, Stearns & Co., both of New York City, and Vector Securities International Inc., of Deerfield, Ill. They have an option to purchase an additional 525,000 shares to cover overallotments.

As of Dec. 31, 1997, Triangle had $57.7 million in cash and reported a net loss of $37.6 million for the year.

The capital raised in the offering will be used to push drug candidates through clinical trials and to market as efficiently as possible, said Lisa Wilder, director of investor and public relations for Triangle. "We have a hefty pipeline with a number of promising compounds and we need to make it happen." No products are expected to be available commercially until 2000.

Triangle's lead product, MKC-442, is a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor for AIDS and is in Phase II/III trials. Results are "around the corner," Wilder said.

Data from a Phase I/II study revealed 90 percent of the 40 patients treated with the highest dose 759 milligrams twice a day experienced a 90 percent decrease in HIV in the blood after one week of treatment with MKC-442 alone. A future study is planned to evaluate MKC-442 in combination with other antiretrovirals.

MKC-442 is not the firm's only promising drug candidate. Triangle has a repertoire of seven potential drugs that mostly center on therapies for HIV and hepatitis B. Four of the compounds are reverse transcriptase inhibitors, two of which are targeted against HIV; the other two are designed to treat both HIV and hepatitis B. The company also has the rights to prospective treatments for herpes, cancer and psoriasis.

Triangle added a protease inhibitor, DMP-450, to its portfolio when it bought Avid Corp., of Philadelphia. The drug was licensed from DuPont Merck Pharmaceuticals Co., of Wilmington, Del. and was Avid's lead drug candidate.

This is not Triangle's first offering. The company, which was founded in 1995, went public in 1996, raising more than $40 million. It netted another $30 million in a private placement last June. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 4, 1996, p.1, and June 10, 1997, p. 1.) *

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