VIEWS AND ANALYSIS, PHARMA TECH
Novavax, Inc. | December 16, 2022
Novavax, Inc. a biotechnology company dedicated to developing and commercializing next-generation vaccines for serious infectious diseases, today announced the pricing of an offering of $150 million aggregate principal amount of its 5.00% convertible senior notes due 2027. The notes are being offered and sold only to persons reasonably believed to be qualified institutional buyers pursuant to Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. In connection with the offering of the notes, Novavax has granted to the initial purchasers a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional $25.25 million aggregate principal amount of the notes. The offering of the notes is expected to close on December 20, 2022, subject to customary closing conditions.
The notes will represent senior unsecured obligations of Novavax and will accrue interest payable semi-annually in arrears and will mature on December 15, 2027, unless earlier converted, redeemed or repurchased. Novavax will settle conversions by paying or delivering, as applicable, cash, shares of its common stock, par value $0.01 per share or a combination of cash and shares of its common stock, at Novavax' election. The notes will be redeemable, in whole or in part for cash at Novavax' option at any time, and from time to time, on or after December 22, 2025, if the last reported sale price of common stock has been at least 130% of the conversion price then in effect for at least 20 trading days during any 30 consecutive trading day period ending on and including the trading day immediately preceding the date on which Novavax provides notice of redemption at a redemption price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the notes to be redeemed, plus any accrued and unpaid interest to, but excluding, the redemption date.
The notes will be convertible at an initial conversion rate of 80.0000 shares of common stock per $1,000 principal amount of notes.
J.P. Morgan, Jefferies and Cowen are acting as joint book-running managers and representatives of the initial purchasers for the offering of the notes. J. Wood Capital Advisors served as financial advisor to the Company in relation to the offering of the notes.
Concurrently with the offering of the notes, Novavax also announced today the pricing of its previously announced underwritten public offering to sell up to 6,500,000 shares of its common stock at a public offering price of $10.00 per share, or $65 million worth of shares of its common stock. In connection with the common stock offering, Novavax granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 975,000 shares of its common stock at the public offering price, less underwriting discounts and commissions. The offering of the notes is not contingent upon the consummation of the concurrent common stock offering, and the concurrent common stock offering is not contingent upon the consummation of the offering of the notes. The concurrent common stock offering is expected to close on December 20, 2022, subject to customary closing conditions.
Novavax may use the net proceeds from the offering of the notes and, if consummated, the concurrent common stock offering, for general corporate purposes, including but not limited to the continued global commercial launch of Nuvaxovid, repayment or repurchase of a portion of the $325 million in outstanding principal amount of its 3.75% convertible senior unsecured notes due February 1, 2023, working capital, capital expenditures, research and development expenditures, clinical trial expenditures, repayments under its supply agreements, as well as acquisitions and other strategic purposes.
Novavax estimates that the net proceeds from the offering of the notes will be approximately $142.2 million after deducting the initial purchasers' discounts and estimated offering expenses payable by Novavax.
The offer and sale of the notes are not being registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended any state securities laws. The notes may not be offered or sold in the U.S. except pursuant to an exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act and any applicable state securities laws.
The notes are being offered only to persons reasonably believed to be qualified institutional buyers pursuant to Rule 144A under the Securities Act. The offer and sale of the notes and any shares of common stock issuable upon conversion of the notes have not been, and will not be, registered under the Securities Act or any other securities laws, and the notes and any such shares cannot be offered or sold absent registration or except pursuant to an applicable exemption from, or in a transaction not subject to, the registration requirements of the Securities Act and any other applicable securities laws.
This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy the securities being offered, nor shall there be any sale of the securities being offered in any state or other jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or other jurisdiction.
Novavax, Inc. is a biotechnology company that promotes improved health globally through the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative vaccines to prevent serious infectious diseases. The company's proprietary recombinant technology platform harnesses the power and speed of genetic engineering to efficiently produce highly immunogenic nanoparticles designed to address urgent global health needs. The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine has received authorization from multiple regulatory authorities globally, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the European Commission, and the World Health Organization.
VIEWS AND ANALYSIS, PHARMACY MARKET
Soligenix, Inc. | December 20, 2022
Soligenix, Inc. a late-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing products to treat rare diseases where there is an unmet medical need, announced today that patient enrollment has been opened for its Phase 2a study evaluating SGX302 in the treatment of mild-to-moderate psoriasis. Psoriasis is an ongoing unmet medical need, with as many as 7.5 million people in the U.S. and 60-125 million people worldwide affected by this incurable disease.
"We are excited to expand synthetic hypericin's development into different cutaneous T-cell diseases such as psoriasis, as a component of our long-term strategy to enhance the value of this unique compound. Given our promising published results with hypericin to date, including a small Phase 1/2 proof of concept clinical trial in mild-to-moderate psoriasis, and the Phase 3 FLASH study in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, where we filed a New Drug Application this month, we are hopeful synthetic hypericin will have a role to play in helping patients suffering from this difficult to treat and chronic disease."
Christopher J. Schaber, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Soligenix
The Phase 2a clinical trial will target enrollment of up to 42 patients ages 18 years or older with mild to moderate, stable psoriasis covering 2 to 30% of their body. In both Parts A and B, all patients will apply the study drug twice per week and will activate the drug with visible light 24 ± 6 hours later using the supplied visible light devices and according to the manufacturer's instructions. Patients will undergo treatments for a total of 18 weeks and, on completion, will be followed for a 4-week follow-up period in which patients will not receive other psoriasis treatments. In Part A, 5-10 patients will be assigned open-label SGX302 at the time of enrollment. Once the tolerability and response to SGX302 has been established, Part B of the protocol will commence. In Part B, patients will be randomized to double-blind treatment groups at a ratio 1:1 of active drug to placebo ointment.
Active dermatologic assessment of treated lesions for adverse events will be performed immediately before and during light treatments. Patients will be assessed for overall disease status through 4 weeks of follow-up. Efficacy endpoints will include the extent of lesion clearance and patient reported quality of life indices. Routine safety laboratories also will be collected.
About Synthetic Hypericin
Visible light-activated synthetic hypericin is a novel, first-in-class, photodynamic therapy that is expected to avoid much of the long-term risks associated with other PDT treatments. Synthetic hypericin is a potent photosensitizer that is topically applied to skin lesions and taken up by cutaneous T-cells. With subsequent activation by safe, visible light, T-cell apoptosis is induced, addressing the root cause of psoriasis lesions. Other PDTs have shown efficacy in psoriasis with a similar apoptotic mechanism, albeit using ultraviolet light associated with more severe potential long-term safety concerns. The use of visible light in the red-yellow spectrum has the advantage of deeper penetration into the skin potentially treating deeper skin disease and thicker plaques and lesions, similar to what was observed in the positive Phase 3 FLASH study in CTCL. Synthetic hypericin or HyBryte™ was demonstrated in this study to be equally effective in treating both plaque and patch lesions in this orphan disease caused by malignant T-cells. In a published Phase 1/2 proof of concept clinical study using synthetic hypericin, efficacy was demonstrated in patients with CTCL.
This treatment approach avoids the risk of secondary malignancies (including melanoma) inherent with both the frequently used DNA-damaging drugs and other phototherapies that are dependent on UV A or B exposure. The use of synthetic hypericin coupled with safe, visible light also avoids the risk of serious infections and cancer associated with the systemic immunosuppressive treatments used in psoriasis.
The Phase 3 FLASH trial enrolled a total of 169 patients with Stage IA, IB or IIA CTCL. The trial consisted of three treatment cycles. Treatments were administered twice weekly in 6-week cycles. In the first double-blind treatment cycle, 116 patients received HyBryte™ treatment and 50 received placebo treatment of their index lesions. A total of 16% of the patients receiving HyBryte™ achieved at least a 50% reduction in their lesions (using the standard Composite Assessment of Index Lesions Severity [CAILS] score) compared to only 4% of patients in the placebo group after just 6 weeks of treatment (p=0.04). Further treatment with HyBryte™ increased the number of treatment successes to 40% and 49% after 12 and 18 weeks, respectively (p<0.0001 for both). Additional analyses also indicated that HyBryte™ is equally effective in treating both plaque (42% treatment response rate after 12 weeks treatment, p<0.0001 relative to placebo treatment in Cycle 1) and patch (37%, p=0.0009) lesions of CTCL, a particularly relevant finding given the historical difficulty in treating plaque lesions. This is also relevant to psoriasis where the lesions can be thicker than the patches observed in CTCL.
In a subset of patients evaluated during their third treatment cycle, it was demonstrated that HyBryte™ is not systemically available, consistent with the general safety of this topical product observed to date. At the end of Cycle 3, HyBryte™ continued to be well tolerated despite extended and increased use of the product to treat multiple lesions.
Psoriasis is a chronic, non-communicable, itchy and often painful inflammatory skin condition for which there is no cure. Psoriasis has a significantly detrimental impact on patients' quality of life, and is associated with cardiovascular, arthritic, and metabolic diseases, as well as psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression and suicide. Many factors contribute to development of psoriasis including both genetic and environmental factors. The lesions develop because of rapidly proliferating skin cells, driven by autoimmune T-cell mediated inflammation. Of the various types of psoriasis, plaque psoriasis is the most common and is characterized by dry, red raised plaques that are covered by silvery-white scales occurring most commonly on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back. Approximately 80% of patients have mild-to-moderate disease. Mild psoriasis is generally characterized by the involvement of less than 3% of the body surface area (BSA), while moderate psoriasis will typically involve 3-10% BSA and severe psoriasis greater than 10% BSA. Between 20% and 30% of individuals with psoriasis will go on to develop chronic, inflammatory arthritis (psoriatic arthritis) that can lead to joint deformations and disability. Studies have also associated psoriasis, and particularly severe psoriasis, with an increased relative risk of lymphoma, particularly CTCL. Although psoriasis can occur at any age, most patients present with the condition before age 35.
Treatment of psoriasis is based on its severity at the time of presentation with the goal of controlling symptoms. It varies from topical options including PDT to reduce pain and itching, and potentially reduce the inflammation driving plaque formation, to systemic treatments for more severe disease. Most common systemic treatments and even current topical photo/photodynamic therapy such as UV A and B, carry a risk of increased skin cancer.
Psoriasis is the most common immune-mediated inflammatory skin disease. According to the World Health Organization Global Report on Psoriasis 2016, the prevalence of psoriasis is between 1.5% and 5% in most developed countries, with some suggestions of incidence increasing with time. It is estimated, based upon review of historic published studies and reports and an interpolation of data that psoriasis affects 3% of the U.S. population or more than 7.5 million people. Current estimates have as many as 60-125 million people worldwide living with the condition. The global psoriasis treatment market was valued at approximately $15 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach as much as $40 billion by 2027.
About Soligenix, Inc.
Soligenix is a late-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing products to treat rare diseases where there is an unmet medical need. Our Specialized BioTherapeutics business segment is developing and moving toward potential commercialization of HyBryte™ as a novel photodynamic therapy utilizing safe visible light for the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. With a successful Phase 3 study completed, regulatory approval is being sought and commercialization activities for this product candidate are being advanced initially in the U.S. Development programs in this business segment also include expansion of synthetic hypericin into psoriasis, our first-in-class innate defense regulator technology, dusquetide for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, including oral mucositis in head and neck cancer, and proprietary formulations of oral beclomethasone 17,21-dipropionate for the prevention/treatment of gastrointestinal disorders characterized by severe inflammation including pediatric Crohn's disease.
VIEWS AND ANALYSIS, PHARMACY MARKET
Vincerx Pharma, Inc. | December 12, 2022
Vincerx Pharma, Inc. a biopharmaceutical company aspiring to address the unmet medical needs of patients with cancer through paradigm-shifting therapeutics, today announced a poster presentation of preclinical data of Vincerx’s proprietary payload and linker technology and VIP943, the Company’s internalizing ADC targeting CD123, at the 64th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting 2022.
VIP943 is a novel ADC, which binds to the IL3-receptor alpha chain . VIP943 combines the unique payload class of kinesin spindle protein inhibitors with a proprietary legumain-cleavable linker. Vincerx’s CellTrapper™ modification of the KSPi prevents diffusion out of the cell, allowing intracellular accumulation. The nonpermeability of the payload prevents off-target toxicities, leading to favorable efficacy and safety profiles.
“I am truly excited about the preclinical results for VIP943 and our proprietary payload and linker technology presented at ASH,” said Ahmed Hamdy, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Vincerx. “For the first time, we showed a significant improvement in safety over an approved ADC, demonstrating in non-human primates the benefit of our KSPi payload and CellTrapper technology specifically designed to address some of the well-known challenges of ADCs on the market. The in vivo AML mouse model results also showed improved efficacy and survival for VIP943 in combination with venetoclax and azacitidine. This triple combination resulted in significant tumor regression as demonstrated by five complete responses and significantly prolonged survival time without increased toxicity,” added Dr. Hamdy.
“This ADC is innovative and exciting. The target is well understood and the novel payload that targets myeloid cells suggests this could be a valuable agent for patients with AML.”
Dr. Anthony Tolcher, M.D., Chief Executive Officer, Founder and Director of Clinical Research at NEXT Oncology
“Current standard of care for AML patients is combination therapy with venetoclax and azacitidine, yet most patients eventually relapse with progressive disease. The efficacy and safety data for VIP943 we see in our studies suggest it may be a promising option for treating AML as a monotherapy in relapse/refractory elderly, unfit and high-risk patients as well as in combination with venetoclax and azacitidine. Our results also provide compelling evidence that VIP943 represents a substantial advancement and potential paradigm-shift in ADC technology. We look forward to continuing to advance the IND-enabling studies for VIP943 and expect to file our IND in mid-2023,” concluded Dr. Hamdy.
ABOUT VINCERX PHARMA, INC.
Vincerx Pharma, Inc. is a clinical-stage life sciences company focused on leveraging its extensive development and oncology expertise to advance new therapies intended to address unmet medical needs for the treatment of cancer. Vincerx has assembled a management team of biopharmaceutical experts with extensive experience in building and operating organizations that develop and deliver innovative medicines to patients. Vincerx’s current pipeline derives from an exclusive license agreement with Bayer and includes a clinical-stage and follow-on small molecule drug program and a preclinical stage modular bioconjugation platform, which includes next-generation antibody-drug conjugates and innovative small molecule drug conjugates.
VIEWS AND ANALYSIS, PHARMA TECH
Virpax Pharmaceuticals | December 15, 2022
Virpax® Pharmaceuticals, Inc. a company specializing in developing non-addictive products for pain management, post-traumatic stress disorder, central nervous system disorders and viral barrier indications, today announced that it has received pre-Investigational New Drug application guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for NobrXiol™, the Company’s product candidate for the delivery of cannabidiol in the management of epilepsy in children and adults. NobrXiol utilizes the Nanomerics Molecular Envelope Technology as its delivery system to cross the blood brain barrier, propelling the cannabidiol nanoparticles through the nose to the brain via the olfactory nerve.
The main purpose of a pre-IND submission is to obtain FDA guidance on the overall development plan for a new drug and to identify any need for further data prior to submitting the IND.
“Virpax now has guidance on how to proceed with the IND enabling studies and possible regulatory pathways to pursue for NobrXiol. Based on the written responses from the FDA and its recommendations, we believe that we can proceed with the next steps in the process towards an IND application for this product candidate.”
Dr. Sheila A. Mathias, Chief Scientific Officer for Virpax
“This is a significant step forward for the NobrXiol project and we are very pleased with the outcome of the pre-IND meeting with the FDA,” said Anthony P. Mack, Chairman and CEO of Virpax. “We believe this product candidate has potential benefits over existing oral CBD treatments for epilepsy including Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. We believe that by using the MET delivery system there may be significant advantages for patients including fewer side effects, avoidance of drug-to-drug interaction and lower dosing of CBD required,” concluded Mr. Mack.
Virpax has acquired the exclusive worldwide rights from Nanomerics to use Nanomerics' MET platform for the nasal delivery of cannabidiol or the management of epilepsy in children and adults. As part of this agreement, Nanomerics is developing an investigational formulation delivered via the nasal route to enhance CBD transport to the brain which could potentially eliminate any drug interaction issues and bypass the digestive system, possibly eliminating many of the side effects associated with the product currently in use on the market. Nanomerics demonstrated the ability of its platform technology to deliver CBD directly to the brain in an animal model.
About Virpax Pharmaceuticals
Virpax is developing branded product candidates for non-addictive pain management and neurological disorders using its proprietary technologies that optimize and target drug delivery. Virpax is initially seeking FDA approval of its three different patented drug delivery platforms. Epoladerm™ is a topical diclofenac spray film formulation being developed to manage pain associated with osteoarthritis of the knee. Probudur™ is a single injection long-acting liposomal bupivacaine formulation being developed to manage post-operative pain. Envelta™ is an intranasal Molecular Envelope Technology enkephalin formulation being developed for the management of acute and chronic pain, including pain associated with cancer, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder under the name PES200. MET technology is also used in AnQlar™, a candidate to inhibit viral replication caused by influenza or SARS-CoV-2. Virpax acquired global rights to NobrXiol™, a product candidate for the nasal delivery of a pharmaceutical-grade cannabidiol for the management of epilepsy in children and adults.