Amsterdam-based uniQure said it would sell 5.4
million shares at an initial public offering price of $17.00 each,
netting it $81.9 million after expenses. It had previously indicated
a price range of $13.00 to $15.00.
The stock was trading just below the issue price at $16.80 by 1600
UniQure won approval in November 2012 to sell its drug Glybera in
Europe and intends to start selling it as a treatment for the
ultra-rare disease lipoprotein lipase deficiency (LPLD) with partner
Chiesi in the first half of 2014.
The drug is likely to break new ground as the world's most expensive
medicine, with a potential price tag of more than $1 million. A high
price is needed because a single dose could last a lifetime, giving
uniQure just one shot at recouping its investment.
Chief Executive Jorn Aldag said in 2012 that Glybera could sell for
around 250,000 euros a year for five years, implying a total price
of 1.25 million euros ($1.6 million).
The company has since said that no decision has been taken on price
and its IPO prospectus also said it now believed that a one-time
price, rather than an annuity-based system, was the most likely
Glybera is a modified virus that delivers the correct version of a
gene into people afflicted with LPLD, a hereditary disorder that
raises the risk of potentially lethal inflammation of the pancreas.
Rare or so-called orphan diseases are winning increased attention
from drug developers and several products from companies including
Sanofi, Shire and Alexion already cost hundreds of thousands of
dollars a year.
UniQure is not the first gene therapy firm to float on Nasdaq.
Bluebird Bio made its debut last June but the Cambridge, Mass.-based
company has yet to win a regulatory green light for its products.
[to top of second column]
The decision by uniQure to float in the United States follows a
trend by a number of European biotech businesses to tap into a
deeper and more experienced capital pool on the other side of the
The results for the Europeans have been mixed.
Britain's GW Pharmaceuticals, which is developing cannabis-based
medicines for pain, spasticity and other conditions, has seen its
shares soar since listing depository receipts on Nasdaq but another
Dutch firm, Prosensa, has flopped after a setback with its drug for
Jefferies and Leerink acted as joint book-running managers for the
uniQure offering, with Piper Jaffray as lead manager.
($1 = 0.7402 euros)
(Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)
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