Cholesterol Drugmaker Gemphire Files for $60 Million IPO

Published: Apr 19, 2016

Cholesterol Drugmaker Gemphire Therapeutics Files for $60 Million IPO
April 19, 2016
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Northville, Mich.-based Gemphire Therapeutics filed yesterday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it plans to raise up to $60 million in an initial public offering (IPO). It plans to list on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol GEMP.

Gemphire is a clinical-stage biotechnology company. It licensed its lead drug, gemcabene, from Pfizer in 2011. Gemcabene is a once-daily oral drug to treat cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The drug has been tested as a single agent and in combination with statins in 17 completed clinical trials, including seven Phase II trials. About 895 patients have been involved. The drug was well tolerated compared to placebo and was effective in lowering LDL-C by approximately 30 percent, triglycerides by about 40 percent, and hsCRP by about 40 percent.

Mina Sooch is the company’s president and chief executive officer. Prior to joining Gemphire, she was the chief executive officer of ProNAi (DNAI). Jeff Mathiesen is the company’s chief financial officer. Prior to Gemphire, he was the chief financial officer of Sunshine Heart, a medical device company. While with the company, he was involved in a successful IPO.

Charles Bisgaier is Gemphire’s co-founder, chairman and chief scientific officer. He was an associate research fellow in the department of vascular and cardiac disease at Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis from 1990 to 1998, where he was involved in the discovery and development of Lopid (gemfibrozil), Lipitor (atorvastatin) and gemcabene. He then co-founded Esperion Therapeutics which was acquired by Pfizer. At Pfizer, he acted as the senior director of pharmacology at the Experion Division of Pfizer Global Research and Development.

Margaret McShane is the company’s chief operating officer. Seth Reno is the chief commercial officer, and David Lowenschuss is the chief legal officer and co-founder.

Gemphire is one of several companies created by Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Grand Angels, which has also invested in ProNAi Therapeutics, Tetra Discovery Partners, and HistoSonics.

On July 31, 2015, Gemphire closed a $2.8 million convertible bridge. Grand Angels invested with existing angel investors and local funds. That money was used to start a Phase IIb clinical trial and manufacturing activities.

On Dec. 23, 2015, the company released form D with the SEC announcing $5.45 million in debt financing, which was the total offering.

Gemphire operates pretty quietly to date. In Feb. 2014, gemcabene received Orphan Product Designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HoFH). This is a rare genetic lipid disorder. Patients with untreated HoFH have extremely high levels of LDL-C, and they typically develop atherosclerosis as early at 10 years of age. They are at extremely high risk of cardiovascular problems and have a high risk of a serious cardiac event starting in their 20s.

So far nothing has been disclosed regarding pricing for the IPO. Jefferies and Cowen & Company are the joint bookrunners.

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