Flexion Prices IPO at $13, Heads to Nasdaq Tomorrow

Xconomy Boston — 

Flexion Therapeutics is set to become the latest biotech to debut on the Nasdaq.

The Burlington, MA-based company, which is developing a group of osteoarthritis drugs, priced its IPO late Tuesday, becoming the 15th biotech to do so just a month into 2014. Flexion sold 5 million shares in the offering at $13 apiece, raising about $65 million before discounts due to underwriters. In doing so, Flexion priced its offering right in the middle of its $12 to $14 per share range it set a few weeks ago. Flexion’s underwriters, BMO Capital Markets, Wells Fargo Securities, and Needham & Co., have a 30-day option to buy another 750,000 shares at the IPO price, which could increase the total fundraising haul for the company.

Flexion will begin trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “FLXN” on Wednesday.

Flexion had already raised about $75 million in equity financing from private investors before the IPO. Versant Ventures holds the biggest piece of the company, owning a 29.8 percent stake, though Sofinnova Partners (19.25 percent), Pfizer (17.32 percent), 5AM Ventures (15.52 percent), and Novo A/S (11.20 percent) are also significant stockholders.

Flexion originally started up in 2007 with a plan to snap up drugs shelved by Big Pharma, run them through efficient trials to quickly see if they should be developed or not, and then partner or sell the drugs to an acquirer. The company changed its plans along the way, however, and turned itself into an osteoarthritis specialist.

Flexion now has three drug candidates in its portfolio targeting the disorder, and plans to use the IPO cash to help develop them. Those experimental drugs are FX006, a long-lasting form of the steroid triamcinolone; FX005, which is designed to inhibit a protein known as p38 MAP kinase that is implicated in inflammation; and FX007, which is supposed to curb pain by blocking a different kinase involved in inflammatory diseases.

FX006 is the most advanced of the three drug candidates. But while Flexion touted successful top-line results from a mid-stage clinical trial of the drug in June and said that it expected to begin pivotal Phase III trials in early 2014, its prospectus indicated that it plans to do two follow-up mid-stage trials later this year to help find a safe and well-tolerated dose of the drug before moving it into a late-stage trial.