Aegerion Pharma prices IPO at $14 to $16 per share

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Associated Press

Posted on October 21, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Updated Sunday, Oct 24 at 6:02 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc., which is developing a drug that treats a rare disorder that causes severe high cholesterol, expects its initial public offering of 4.7 million shares to price at $14 to $16 per share.

Underwriters of the IPO will have the option to buy another 700,000 shares to cover any excess demand. If all the shares are sold at $15 per share, the Bridgewater, N.J., company would raise $81 million before expenses and discounts.

Aegerion said it will have 15.4 million shares outstanding after IPO is complete, not including any shares sold to the underwriters.

The company will use the proceeds of the offering to pay back debt and fund development of lomitapide, which it is testing as a once-per-day treatment for homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic disease that causes very high levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol. Lomitapide is designed to treat the disease by limiting secretions of cholesterol and triglycerides from the intestines and liver.

If a current late-stage trial is successful, Aegerion plans to file for marketing approval in the U.S. and the European Union before the end of 2011.

About 3,000 people in the U.S. have homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, as do 3,000 more people in the five largest pharmaceutical markets in the E.U., Aegerion said. Lomitapide has received orphan drug status in the U.S., meaning that if it is approved, competing drugs will be barred from the market for up to seven years.

Aegerion said Bristol-Myers Squibb. Co. studied lomitapide as a cholesterol drug in the 1990s, hoping it would be a viable alternative to statins. But Bristol-Myers ended development because a small number of patients experienced greater levels of liver enzymes and greater levels of fat in the liver, and a large number of patients dropped out of trials because of side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Aegerion said patients in its studies have had similar side effects, but they are less common because it is titrating the doses, or allowing patients' bodies to adjust to the drug by gradually increasing the dose they receive.

The company is also testing lomitapide as a treatment for a rare genetic illness that leads to severely elevated triglyceride levels.

Aegerion applied with the Securities and Exchange Commission to have its shares listed on the Nasdaq Global Market under the ticker symbol "AEGR." The stock is expected to begin trading this week.

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