ZS Pharma Ends Texas Biotech IPO Dry Spell With $86M Pitch

Xconomy Texas — 

Biotechs all over the country have been rushing into the IPO queue over the last year—just, as it turns out, not in Texas. That changed this past week, when ZS Pharma, a suburban Fort Worth, TX, biotech, revealed plans to go public and raise as much as $86 million from investors.

ZS Pharma is developing a drug called ZS-9 to treat chronic kidney disease, and is looking to Wall Street for the cash to help get it through late-stage clinical trials and on to the market. Should it go public, ZS Pharma would use the ticker “ZSPH” and list on the Nasdaq.

ZS Pharma’s filing got me looking for the last Texas life sciences firm to hit the public markets. Until the recent slowdown, the biotech IPO pipeline had been rather robust in other parts of the country. Our former national biotech writer Luke Timmerman reported that as of last August, 30 life sciences had gone public, more than double the annual rate of biotech IPOs since 2008.

As it turns out, finding the most recent Texas biotech IPOs wasn’t an easy task. I pinged our friends at BioHouston, which works to boost the life sciences ecosystem not only in the Bayou City, but throughout the state, and they pointed to research at the Trout Group, which shows a string of five Texas biotech IPOs—each of which took place 14 years ago.

Between March and October 2000, Luminex (NASDAQ: LMNX), Tanox (NASDAQ: TNOX), Lexicon Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: LXRX), Pain Therapeutics (NASDAQ: PTIE), and Introgen Therapeutics went public in deals that ranged from $36.8 million (Introgen) to $244 million (Tanox.)

There is one caveat that we could find. Pernix (NASDAQ: PNX), a maker of children’s medication based in The Woodlands, TX, went public in 2010—but BioHouston’s CEO Jacqueline Northcut points out that that, technically, the transaction was a reverse merger, a less traditional approach to going public.

Some of these companies are still afloat. Luminex, based in Austin, TX, expanded its disease-screening … Next Page »

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