After weeks of rumors on Wall Street, Icos Corp. on Thursdaysaid it has filed for an initial public offering of 4.5 millionshares of common stock priced between $8 and $10 per share.

Icos is developing drugs to treat chronic inflammatory diseases,including arthritis, multiple sclerosis and asthma.

Icos has received a great deal of publicity since its founding in1989. New York investors David and Isaac Blech broughttogether a team of experienced biotech managers: RobertNowinski, Icos president and chief executive officer, whofounded Genetic Systems Inc., now part of Bristol-MyersSquibb Co.; George Rathmann, Icos chairman and a founder ofAmgen Corp.; and Chris Henney, Icos executive vice presidentand a founder of Immunex Inc.

Icos raised a record $33 million in its first round of privatefinancing last summer, including a 10 percent equityinvestment by Bill Gates, founder of software giant MicrosoftCorp.

If the IPO is successfully completed, Icos would have 21.4million shares outstanding and would raise between $36million and $45 million.

This seems modest compared with the recent IPO by RegeneronPharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:REGN), which earlier this monthsold 4.5 million shares at $22 per share, grossing $99 million.Regeneron had originally planned to sell 3 million shares at $16to $19 per share.

Regeneron's offering gave the company a market capitalizationof $340 million, which has since declined to $236 million, basedon Regeneron's closing stock price of $15.25 on Thursday. Icos'offering would give the company a market cap of $171 millionto $214 million.

Many industry watchers criticized the pricing of Regeneron'soffering as excessive, considering how long it will take thecompany to bring products to the clinic.

Icos probably has products closer to clinical trials thanRegeneron does, said Jim McCamant, editor of the MedicalTechnology Stock Letter in Berkeley, Calif. The key question ishow much Icos scientists have accomplished since the originalprivate financing, McCamant said.

Underwriters PaineWebber Inc. and Lehman Brothers have anoption to purchase an additional 675,000 shares to coveroverallotments.

-- Karen Bernstein BioWorld Staff

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