Biotech Survival Index: Boston Life Sciences Companies Brace for Long, Hard Winter

11/25/08Follow @xconomy

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NitroMed (NASDAQ: NTMD). This Lexington, MA-based company has already taken drastic action, dumping its BiDil heart drug, and agreeing to merge with privately-held Archemix. The merged company will have $50 million to $60 million in cash and presumably better prospects than Nitromed had on its own.

Parexel International (NASDAQ: PRXL). The Waltham, MA-based clinical trial services company had a comfortable $13.6 million third quarter profit and $48.1 million in cash in the bank at the end of September.

Perkin Elmer (NYSE: PKI). This Waltham, MA-based maker of scientific tools turned a $51.9 million third-quarter profit, and had $188.8 million in cash and investments at the end of Septmeber.

RXI Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: RXII). This Worcester, MA-based company had $12.7 million in cash and investments at the end of September, and a net loss of $3.5 million in the third quarter. CEO Tod Woolf has gone on record saying he intends to sign a partnership with a pharmaceutical company to help pay his research bills.

Sepracor (NASDAQ: SEPR). This Marlborough, MA-based company, the maker of the sleep drug Lunesta, had more than $1 billion in cash at the beginning of the year, but its stockpile had diminished to $787.4 million at the end of September.

Targanta Therapeutics (NASDAQ: TARG). The Cambridge, MA-based biotech company was stunned this month when an FDA advisory panel said its lead antibiotic shouldn’t be approved for sale. The company had burned through about $46 million in cash during the first nine months, and had $42.6 million left at the end of September.

Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO). This Waltham, MA-based maker of pharmaceutical supplies had stashed away $1.25 billion in cash and investments at the end of September. It reported a profit of $221.5 million in the third quarter, so if anybody’s prepared to weather a downturn, it’s this group.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX). The Cambridge, MA-based drug developer had some great timing this fall. It raised $217 million in a stock offering underwritten by Goldman Sachs, which closed one day before billionaire investor Warren Buffett rescued the storied investment bank with a $5 billion investment on Sept. 23. Still, Vertex is running ambitious clinical trials for its hepatitis C drug, and is burning a lot of cash. It had $920 million in cash and investments at the end of September, and a net loss of $130 million in the quarter.

Zoll Medical (NASDAQ: ZOLL). This Chelmsford, MA-based medical device company is one of the rare birds that had more cash at the end of September than it did at the beginning of the year. It had $69 million at the end of September, and turned a $23.4 million profit in the third quarter.

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