Morrisville biopharmaceutical firm Liquidia plans to raise up to $57.5 million through an initial public stock offering to fund continued development of technology to customize medicines for individual patients.
Liquidia employs 64 people but said in its public filing Friday it had to cut research and development staff in January because it expects to make almost no money this year from its lucrative licensing agreement with GlaxoSmithKline, the global pharmaceutical company. GSK had expressed interest in Liquidia's promising drug delivery technology for its vaccines and other treatments, but GSK recently scrapped those plans, depriving Liquidia of its single greatest source of revenue.
Liquidia, a 14-year old company with no commercial products, generated $7.3 million in revenue last year and $13.2 million in 2016, with GSK accounting for 90 percent of the 2016 revenue and 84 percent of last year's revenue. Liquidia said in its public filing that its shares would trade on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol LQDA and that it also plans to use the money raised to pay off $2.3 million in debt.
Its proprietary technology, called PRINT, is an acronym for Particle Replication In Non-Wetting Templates. It enables precise engineering of microscopic particles that can be combined with drugs for delivery to targeted tissues within the patient's body. In addition to using the PRINT technology for its own medications, Liquidia hopes to develop the technology for medications created by other pharmaceutical companies.
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The company is developing two medications of its own — LIQ861, a dry powder inhaled for pulmonary arterial hypertension, and LIQ865, a technology to deliver a non-opioid pain killer for post-surgical pain for up to five days with a single injection.
The medication for pulmonary arterial hypertension is in a stage 3 clinical trial and farthest along the developmental path. The rare chronic lung condition, which affects between 25,000 and 30,000 people in this country, is caused by the hardening and narrowing of pulmonary arteries and can lead to heart failure.
Liquidia was founded in 2004 based on the nanotechnology research of renowned chemist Joseph DeSimone, an inventor and entrepreneur who's on the faculty of both N.C. State University and UNC-Chapel Hill. DeSimone was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation prize by then President Barack Obama in 2016.
Even with GSK licensing payments, Liquidia's research expenses outpaced the company's revenue. Liquidia told the Securities and Exchange Commission in its Friday filing that it lost $29.1 million last year, and lost $27.5 million in the first three months of this year. As of March 31, the company has run up a total deficit of $141.4 million.
Liquidia's primary investors are New Enterprise Associates, Canaan, Xeraya LT, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Morningside Venture Investments Limited.
CEO Neal Fowler has led the company for the past decade. His salary last year was $411,769, and his total compensation package was valued at $587,369.