Amag Eyes Rebound, Idera Surges On Despite Merck KGaA Drop, Verastem Snags $32M, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

Xconomy Boston — 

This week was full of meaty analysis of drug development programs at New England-area biotechs.

—Waltham, MA-based Avedro took in $25 million, which it will use to expand commercial operations internationally and to seek FDA clearance in the U.S of its technology that uses the pulse in microwave energy to correct vision. The deal was led by SCP Vitalife and Aperture Venture Partners and also included existing Avedro investors Prism VentureWorks, De Novo Ventures, Flagship Ventures, Borealis Ventures, and Echelon Ventures.

—Salient Surgical Technologies, a Portsmouth, NH-based developer of devices that stop bleeding and seal wounds using radio-frequency energy and saline solution, will be bought by Medtronic for $525 million in cash.

—Xconomy New York editor Arlene Weintraub sat down with executives of Amag Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AMAG). They discussed what seems to be the Lexington, MA-based  biotech’s upswing from the beating its stock had taken after the FDA demanded Amag label its first drug, ferumoxytol, with warnings of side effects like anaphylactic-type reactions and abnormal blood-pressure drops. The company’s stock has risen this year with reports from analyst Christopher Raymond of Robert W. Baird & Co. that the worst was over, and Amag’s announcement that the FDA would allow it to tone down the safety language on the drug label.

—Meanwhile, Cambridge, MA-based Idera Pharmaceuticals saw its stock drop this month after it announced that Germany’s Merck KGaA had decided to halt development of a cancer drug the two companies had partering on, because of side effects in patients like a dangerous drop in white blood cells. Idera (NASDAQ: IDRA) still plans to surge ahead with development of its drugs that focus on toll-like receptors, CEO Sudhir Agrawal told Arlene.

—Verastem, a Boston-based oncology startup founded by MIT biologists Robert Weinberg and Eric Lander, raised $32 million in Series B financing. The round was led by Advanced Technology Ventures and Astellas Venture Management and included previous investors Longwood Founders Fund, Bessemer Venture Partners, Cardinal Partners, and MPM Capital.