Oh, Canada! By Eric Pierce
& Shaun Brown
Staff Writers

Although the US$120 million follow-on by QLT PhotoTherapeutics (TSE:QLT; QLTI) last week was robust in any market, in the current doldrums the number is more eye-popping. To put the QLT financing in context, Canadian biotech companies in aggregate raised US$303.1 million in all of 1998, including a US$125 million note offering by Biovail (BVF). And prior to the QLT offering, the total raised through all follow-ons this year was $194.7 million.

QLT upped its original filing by 500,000 shares, selling 2.75 million shares at US$43.63. The stock held up on the road show, falling US$2.25 (5 percent) since the original filing. QLT closed Friday at US$45.688, up $4.438 (11 percent) on the week.

Although the photodynamic therapy company intends to use part of the proceeds for commercialization of Visudyne verteporfin and Photofrin porfimer sodium, it also said the bankroll would be used for possible acquisitions of technologies, products or companies.

QLT and partner Ciba Vision have completed Phase III trials of Visudyne to treat macular degeneration, and anticipate submitting an NDA with the FDA later this year. Photofrin is approved in the U.S. to treat esophageal cancer and certain lung cancers.

Canadian rumblings

The Canadian market showed other signs of percolating, as one planned IPO was announced while two companies filed final prospectuses for follow-on offerings that will close in the next couple of weeks.