Optimer Raises $32.9M in Stock Offering

Xconomy San Diego — 

Optimer Pharmaceuticals has seen its stock almost triple from its low point in the past year, and yesterday it took advantage of the rising tide. The San Diego biotech company (NASDAQ: OPTR) received commitments from investors to buy new shares and warrants that add up to a cash infusion worth $32.9 million.

The company agreed to sell about 2.8 million new shares at $10 apiece to investors, as well as some new units for a higher price of $10.93 that includes one share plus a warrant to buy a partial share in the future. Optimer didn’t say much about what it will do with the money, other than fuel its ongoing drug development programs.

The company was in a position to raise that kind of cash—without selling huge numbers of shares that might greatly dilute the value of existing ones—because it has had a string of successes in clinical trials the past six months. Optimer reported results in November from a 629-patient trial from its experimental drug for the dreaded “C. Diff” bacteria that people get in hospitals, and that causes horrific, and sometimes fatal diarrhea. The Optimer drug produced a higher rate of cures than the standard antibiotic, and was better at preventing relapses that often forces people to be re-hospitalized with tougher cases. Then last month the company followed that up with another clinical trial success for its second drug in the pipeline, a candidate for traveler’s diarrhea.

Optimer, which currently has no products on the market, had $46.5 million in cash and investments the last time it reported financials at the end of September, and it is spending $8 million to $9 million a quarter, said analyst Thomas Russo of Robert W. Baird, in a note to clients today. He expects the company will raise more money again before the end of June, and sign a partnership to help with marketing fidaxomicin (OPT-80), the drug for “C.Diff.”

“We view this transaction positively, as cash runway trumps dilution for pre-commercial stage biotechs in this environment,” Russo wrote.

Optimer shares rose 1 cent after the deal was announced, to $10.94.

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