By Debbie Strickland

Anika Therapeutics Inc., a four-year-old spin-off of MedChem Inc., is seeking $20 million in a public offering of 2.5 million shares at an assumed price of $8 per share.

The underwriters — led by Furman Selz, of New York, Volpe Brown Whelan & Co., of San Francisco, and Leerink, Swann & Co., of Boston — have an overallotment option of 375,000 shares.

Existing stockholders registered to sell an additional 500,000 shares as part of the offering, with an overallotment option of 75,000 shares.

After the offering, the company will have 9.4 million shares outstanding.

At the assumed price, Anika would net $18.1 million from its portion of the offering, or $20.9 million if the underwriters' overallotment option is exercised in full. Combined with existing sources of operating capital, the proceeds are expected to meet the company's cash requirements for at least 24 months.

Anika develops and commercializes through marketing partners therapeutics and devices based on hyaluronic acid (HA), a naturally occurring polymer found throughout the body. HA helps protect and lubricate soft tissues and joints, maintain the structural integrity of tissues and transport molecules to and within cells.

The company's development portfolio includes Incert, an HA-based, bioresorbable membrane designed to prevent post-surgical adhesions. The company estimates the world market for anti-adhesion products to be $900 million. Incert is slated to begin human clinical testing in Europe next year.

At the preclinical level, a product dubbed Ossigel uses HA as a drug delivery vehicle. Ossigel combines HA with basic fibroblast growth factor in an injectable formulation. Partnered with Mountain View, Calif.-based Orquest Inc., the product is designed to accelerate the healing of bone fractures.

In other early research, Anika is studying the use of HA components to inhibit cancer metastasis. Early research indicates HA oligosaccharides bind and block metastasis-linked HA receptors on the surface of cancer cells.

The company has one currently marketed human therapeutic — Orthovisc, an HA product used in the treatment of some forms of osteoarthritis. Orthovisc is approved in Canada for osteoarthritis of the knee and temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and in Europe for the treatment of osteoarthritis in synovial joints. The product has also received approvals in Turkey and Israel, and is under review in Australia, New Zealand and Egypt.

In the U.S., Anika has completed a pivotal, 226-patient clinical trial of Orthovisc for osteoarthritis of the knee. The company expects to file a pre-market approval application with the FDA by year-end.

Orthovisc has marketing partners for Spain, Portugal, Israel, Turkey and Egypt. The company is seeking a distribution and marketing partner for other markets.

Anika also sells Hyvisc, an HA-based treatment for equine osteoarthritis. That product is distributed in the U.S. by Saint Joseph, Mo.-based Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Inc., a subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, of Ingelheim Germany.

About 90 percent of the Anika's revenues come from the sale of two ophthalmic products, Amvisc and Amvisc Plus, to Chiron Vision, a subsidiary of Emeryville, Calif-based Chiron Corp. Amvisc and Amvisc Plus are HA products used as viscoelastic supplements in ophthalmic surgery.

Bausch & Lomb, of Rochester, N.Y., earlier this month agreed to purchase Chiron Vision for $300 million. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 23, 1997, p. 1).

During the first three quarters of 1997, Anika reported a net income of $286,000 on sales of $6.0 million. As of Sept. 30, the company had $3.1 million in cash and cash equivalents.

Anika's shares (NASDAQ:ANIK) closed Friday at $8.25, up $0.063. *

No Comments