Anesta Corp. has completed an initial public offering of 2.5million shares of common stock at $12.50 per share. Thecompany raised net proceeds of approximately $29 million on atotal of $31.25 million. Shares began trading on January 28under the NASDAQ symbol NSTA.

The underwriters for the offering, which was filed in lateDecember, were Montgomery Securities and Volpe, Welty &Company.

With the completion of the offering, the company hasapproximately 7 million shares of stock outstanding, Anestacontroller Roger Evans told BioWorld. The company reportedlosses of $621,000 for the nine months ended September 30,1993.

Anesta specializes in the development of new pharmaceuticalproducts for transmucosal delivery of systemic drugs. Thecompany's first product, Fentanyl Oralet (fentanyl citrate),received FDA approval in October 1993 for use as an anestheticpremedication and in monitored anesthesia care. Anesta is inPhase II/III development of Fentanyl Oralet as a treatment forcancer pain and acute pain. The company hopes to submit asupplemental new drug application for this indication in 1995.

Abbott Laboratories is providing funding for development ofFentanyl Oralet as part of a strategic alliance with Anesta.Abbott manufactures the product and holds exclusiveworldwide marketing rights to it in exchange for royalty andmilestone payments. Abbott also has rights to other productsusing Anesta's delivery system for certain specified uses.

At the completion of the public offering, Abbott exercisedwarrants to purchase 1.2 million shares of Anesta, giving thepharmaceutical manufacturer an 18.3 percent stake in the newcompany.

Other therapeutic targets of Anesta's oral transmucosal drugdevelopment program include sedation, analgesia, relief ofanxiety, smoking cessation, migraine headache, and treatmentof nausea and vomiting.

Anesta's drug-delivery system consists of a lozenge or a non-dissolvable matrix mounted on a handle. The drug is deliveredby dissolving the lozenge or releasing the drug from the matrixin the mouth, which the company says allows rapid absorptionof the drug through oral mucosal tissues and slower absorptionthrough the gastrointestinal tract. The company believes itsdelivery system offers an onset of action and rate ofelimination that is potentially more rapid for certain drugsthan other delivery methods. Anesta also said its system israpid and efficient enough to be used in a dose-to-effectapplication, meaning that a caregiver administering a drugthrough Anesta's oral transmucosal delivery can increase thedose until a desired therapeutic effect is achieved and thencease administration.

Anesta intends to use revenues from the offering mostly forresearch and development of products and associatedregulatory expenses. Its development strategy will continue tofocus on new delivery methods of already approved drugs.

-- Karl A. Thiel Associate Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.