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Biotech Firms Dip Toes In Investment Waters

by Ann M. Thayer
August 10, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 32

An upturn in biotechnology company fortunes is helping boost stock values in the industry. In July especially, the biotech sector was "hot," according to Burrill & Co., and the merchant bank's biotech stock index posted a 6.5% gain. Positive drug data, good sales and earnings results, and partnering and merger deals all contributed to the increase. Taking advantage of the warmer climate for the sector, several biotech firms have sold or will sell shares to raise money. In one of the biggest offerings in some time, Human Genome Sciences cashed in on positive news about its lupus drug, Benlysta, and collected $357 million last week. Meanwhile, swine flu vaccine maker Inovio Biomedical raised $30 million, and Micromet, a developer of antibody therapies, brought in $81 million. Oncology-focused Ariad Pharmaceutical has priced its planned stock offering to raise $31 million, and Idenix Pharmaceuticals, which develops drugs against human viral diseases, hopes to raise $21 million. To further support its inhaled insulin product, MannKind will try to sell 7.4 million shares, which have been trading for around $8.00; CEO and principal stockholder Alfred E. Mann will buy 1 million of the newly offered shares.


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