All Eyes On Ironwood IPO, Icahn Seeks Biogen Board Seats, Boston Scientific Settles with J&J, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

2/3/10Follow @xconomy

So there was good news and bad news for the New England life sciences community in the past week, but industry watchers this week are all waiting to see how the Ironwood IPO story plays out.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn and his associates notified Cambridge, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB) of their plans to nominate three additional people for Biogen’s board of directors. The move comes as Biogen searches for a replacement for CEO James Mullen, who last month announced his plans to retire in June. Icahn, who controls about 5.6 percent of Biogen shares and already has two representatives on the Biogen board, could gain even greater influence at the company if his picks fill three of the four open board slots.

—Flexion Therapeutics, a Woburn, MA-based company whose mission is to run early stage clinical trials more quickly and cheaply than big pharma companies do, inked new deals with four major drugmakers. A $9 million venture investment from Pfizer pushes Flexion’s Series A total to $42 million. The startup, founded by two Eli Lilly veterans, also announced partnerships with AstraZeneca, Germany-based Merck KGaA, and one other unnamed drugmaker.

—BG Medicine, a Waltham, MA-based developer of molecular diagnostics, revealed plans for an initial public offering worth as much as $86.3 million in a regulatory filing. The company, which bagged an $80 million IPO plan two years ago, is also seeking FDA approval of its Galetin-3 diagnostic product, which aims to predict a patient’s risk of heart failure.

—Speaking off IPOs, Cambridge-based Ironwood Pharmaceuticals is positioning itself this week to pull off one of biotechnology’s biggest in recent years. The company, whose lead drug candidate is in the final stages of clinical testing, has forecasted that 16.7 million shares of common stock will go for $14 to $16 a share. If it successfully attracts Wall Street investors, the offering could reinvigorate venture investors and entrepreneurs who have remained wary of the costs and risks associated with drug development, predicted industry market watchers who spoke with Luke.

—Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX), the Natick, MA medical device giant, announced it would pay $1.725 billion to settle three patent-infringement lawsuits with Johnson & Johnson; the suits were related to several of Boston Scientific’s stent products. Boston Scientific agreed to pay Johnson & Johnson $1 billion now and the remainder of the settlement within the next 11 months, a move that would allow it to avoid the risks of jury trials.

—Westford, MA-based BioBehavioral Diagnostics raised $10 million in a Series B round led by Sevin Rosen Funds and Tullis Dickerson. The maker of an attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnostic test will put the cash toward sales, marketing, and clinical work for its system.

—Ryan reflected on an Xconomy-hosted dinner that addressed the challenges and perks of virtual business models in biotech. He highlighted insights from Duane Roth, CEO of La Jolla, CA-based industry group CONNECT, who sung the praises of contracting out research and development.

–Ryan took a look at how NxStage Medical (NASDAQ:NXTM), a maker of portable dialysis systems for patients with kidney disease, has regained its stride after hitting a rough patch early last year. The Lawrence, MA-based company is benefitting from a financing and partnership deal with Japanese medical supplies firm Asahi Kasei Kuraray Medical, and has reported increased revenue for the first nine months of 2009 compared to the year before.

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