NEW HAVEN — A biotechnology company developing two cancer-fighting drugs was able to raise $400 million in a stock offering that lasted just 48 hours.
Arvinas Inc. originally sought to raise $250 million in its stock offering, John Houston, the company’s president and chief executive officer, said Wednesday. But after the company released some clinical data regarding testing of its treatments being developed for metastatic breast cancer and prostate cancer Monday, “the demand for the stock became very high,” Houston said.
“We had to upsize the offering to $400 million,” he said. “It’s fantastic. It shows great confidence in the company.”
Most of the shares were purchased by institutional investors like hedge funds, Houston said. One Wall Street analyst, Mark Breidenbach with Oppenheimer Co., told Yahoo! Finance that the breast cancer drug candidate ARV 471 has “blockbuster potential.”
A drug is considered a blockbuster in the pharmaceutical industry if it is generates annual sales of at least $1 billion for the company that sells it.
Interest in Arvinas’ cancer-fighting drug candidates also has driven up the price of the company’s stock.
The stock, which trades under the symbol ARVN on the Nasdaq exchange, had closed Friday at $29.93. The stock price reached a high of $74.36 at the close of trading Tuesday before closing at $66.75 Wednesday.
Some of the money raised in the stock offering will be used to advance ARV 471 from Phase I testing, currently underway, to Phase II, which Houston said will begin sometime next year. Arvinas researchers also will do what Houston called “a combination study” test how ARV 471 works when used along with Ibrance, a breast cancer treatment drug marketed by Pfizer.
“The standard of care is largely drugs used in combination,” Houston said.
Arvinas’ metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer drug candidate, ARV 110, is in Phase I testing, as well. Part of the testing of ARV 110 involves bringing in late-stage prostate cancer patients and using the drug candidate in escalating dosage levels.
A third drug, ARV 766, is being developed for use in combination with ARV 110, according to Houston.
The company also has a pre-clinical pipeline of 20 drug candidates, he said.
“We’ve got a lot going on,” Houston said.
Arvinas has added about 70 new employees in the past year and now has a workforce of about 170, he said.
“We have aggressive plans; our only limitation right now is COVID-19,” he said.
Office employees for Arvinas are working from home and lab space had to be reconfigured to provide researchers with proper social distancing.
Houston said the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines has created “a huge amount of interest in how drugs are developed right now.”
“I’m being asked by neighbors and friends about my work who never asked before,” he said.
Arvinas, based in the city’s Science Park complex and founded in 2013, has been working on targeting disease-causing proteins since it began. The company was founded by Craig Crews, a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at Yale University, and he is Arvinas’ chief scientific adviser.