Univax Biologics Inc. conducted its own public offering of commonstock and raised $22 million, with a net of $21.6 million to theRockville, Md. company.Univax originally registered to sell 3 million shares, but increased theoffering to 4 million at $5.50 per share last Thursday when thecompany saw there was enough interest to support the amendment,Cabot Caskie, Univax's vice president and chief financial officer, toldBioWorld. He said the average trading price over 20 days wasdiscounted 3.5 percent in the offering, which involved new shares toinstitutional investors.Univax (NASDAQ:UNVX) now has 17 million shares outstanding,about $36 million in cash and is burning some $1.7 million per month,Caskie said. Univax stock closed Tuesday at $6.13 per share, up 38cents.The company, with licensing partner Rh Pharma-ceuticals Inc., of Winnipeg, Manitoba, has a product license application(PLA) pending with the FDA for WinRho SD. The hyperimmunepolyclonal antibody is for the treatment of chronic and acute idiopathicthrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) in children and adults, ITP secondaryto HIV, and prevention of Rh isoimmunization.Univax received a letter from the FDA on July 29 asking forinformation related to the PLA. Caskie said a response, concerningquestions dealing with manufacturing and clinical trials, was sent twoweeks ago. No new clinical work was needed, and Univax believes thequestions were answered satisfactorily, Caskie said.Univax, which has three products in clinical trials and others in thepipeline, estimated that $14 million from the offering will be used forresearch, development and clinical studies.About $2 million is expected to go toward construction of facilities thatwill be centered around pilot vaccine and polyclonal antibodyproduction plants, and include laboratories, offices and warehouseoperations. In July, Univax announced the execution of a $45 millionfinancing agreement with The BioPlex Group Inc., of Needham, Mass.,and La Jolla, Calif.Univax is scheduled to contribute $2 million equity to the project, thenmake lease payments to BioPlex. Discussions are under way withMontgomery County, Md., officials on site selection for the plant,which is expected to be ready in 1996.Another $3 million from the offering is earmarked toward marketingand promotional activities, assuming WinRho approval is forthcoming.Caskie said, "We will not bring on a full-time sales staff until we winFDA approval for WinRho, but we will take all necessary steps to be ina position to implement a marketing program very quickly."Proceeds from the offering are expected to last Univax 21 months, atthe current burn rate, which Caskie said will not increase. He addedthat the rate also is highly dependent on WinRho sales.Univax has HyperGAM+CF in the clinic, with Genzyme Corp., ofCambridge, Mass., for cystic fibrosis. Caskie said the plan is to havethe polyclonal antibody in a Phase II/III trial by the end of the year orearly in 1995. A HyperVAX+Staph A vaccine is in Phase II trials toprevent staphylococcal infections in kidney dialysis patients. AndCryptoGAM is in Phase II trials for treatment of cryptosporidiosis. n
-- Jim Shrine
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