Ebb & Flow

Cerimon's $70 million series A round probably turned some heads last week, as the company's lone products are topical formulations of diclofenac, an NSAID that's rather long of tooth. However, the company's directors and investors maintain there's plenty more to come, and that Cerimon should be able to bring in a suite of pain and inflammation products with the series A proceeds.

U.S. rights to the diclofenac products were in-licensed last week from an undisclosed party. Cerimon plans to begin Phase I trials to treat mild to moderate arthritis pain. The compounds are marketed in Japan, and Denise Pollard-Knight, head of Nomura Phase4 Ventures, told Ebb & Flow that the drugs are doing "over $70 million in combined annual sales in Japan - and one of the products has only just been launched."

Nomura Phase4 was an investor in the series A, and Pollard-Knight joined Cerimon's board. The round was led by MPM Capital, and other investors included OrbiMed Advisors.

Pollard-Knight noted that the diclofenac formulations will likely be on the low-risk end of the spectrum of products that Cerimon plans to in-license. "Some other products the company is considering in-licensing are slightly higher risk, but are also potentially bigger opportunities," she said. "You'll see a portfolio develop over time. We expect the series A money to get Cerimon up to three late-stage compounds and potentially an earlier stage compound."

Vaughn Kailian, an MPM general partner who is Cerimon's chairman, projected the company should have a "full complement of pipeline products to prosecute with their money," within six months.

At $70 million, Cerimon's financing is tied with neurology play Xcel (now part of Valeant) for the third largest A round in biotech's history. Biovitrum, which is developing therapeutics for obesity, diabetes and inflammation, still tops the charts with its $85 million round that closed in 2001. Pediatric specialty pharma company Verus sits at number two with its $78 million financing that was completed in June.

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