Massachusetts' Mucus Penetrating Eye Disease Firm Kala Pharma Raises $68 Million

Massachusetts' Mucus Penetrating Eye Disease Firm Kala Pharma Raises $68 Million
April 13, 2016
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Waltham, Mass.-based Kala Pharmaceuticals announced today that it had closed on a $68 million Series C preferred stock financing. The financing round was led by Longitude Capital and joined by new investors OrbiMed, Vivo Capital and CAM Capital. Existing investors that participated include RA Capital Management, Wellington Management Company, Polaris Partners, Lux Capital, CVF and others.

The company plans to use the money to push its confirmatory Phase III clinical trial for KPI-121 for the treatment of inflammation and pain after cataract surgery, as well as two parallel Phase III studies for KPI-121 in dry eye disease.

In addition to the funding, Gregory Grunberg, managing director at Longitude Capital, and Chen Yu, managing partner at Vivo Capital, joined the company’s board of directors.

“This financing provides us with the resources to complete our Phase III trials with KPI-121, our novel nanoparticle formulation of Ioteprednol etabonate, in cataract surgery and dry eye disease, which if successful, will position us to file New Drug Applications for each indication in the U.S. in 2017,” said Mark Iwicki, chairman and chief executive officer of Kala, in a statement. “We are grateful for the support of so many blue chip investors who share our conviction that Kala’s MPP enabled medicines can transform the treatment of millions of patients suffering from these conditions.”

Since 2009, Kala has raised more than $100 million, according to Xconomy. The way the company’s technology works, it has a “mucosal penetrating product” that connects nanoparticles to engineered polymers that are small enough to slip through mucosal barriers like the ones that protect the eye from dust and viruses. In other words, the company is working to develop eye drops that deliver medications to front-of-the-eye diseases like dry eye disease or inflammation, with hopes of later developing something that can deliver drugs to back-of-the-eye diseases like glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration.

The company’s technology has potential applications in a number of fields, including women’s reproductive health, respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases, and others.

Mark Iwicki came to the company in May 2015. In late 2015, he sold Civitas Therapeutics, where he was president and chief executive officer, to Acorda Therapeutics (ACOR). Before Civitas, Iwicki was chief executive officer of Blend Therapeutics, and chief executive officer of Sunovion Pharmaceuticals. Sunovion was the result of an acquisition of Sepracor Pharmaceuticals by Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co. While at Sepracor, Iwicki was chief commercial officer. He launched three products and handled the company’s drug portfolio. Prior to Sepracor, he was senior vice president and head of Novartis AG ’s cardiovascular business unit.

Xconomy describes the most recent investors as being crossovers, which refers to investors who put money into both public and private companies. This is often a prelude to an initial public offering (IPO) in the case of private companies, although at this point there’s no specific indication that Kala might go public.

“Kala has rapidly transformed into a late-stage ophthalmic company with multiple near-term commercial opportunities for KPI-121,” said Grunberg in a statement. “Kala’s promising pipeline has the potential to address major markets with large unmet needs and the company has the financial strength, the right team, and the experience to drive its programs toward near-term value creation.”

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