Acadia Takes a Fall, CareFusion Spins Off, Life Technologies Takes $450M in Cash, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

9/3/09Follow @bvbigelow

CareFusion, a medical technology company, got its official start earlier this week and is already one of the largest companies in San Diego, with 15,000 employees and $3.7 billion in annual revenue. Find out how that happened and read up on other local biotech news.

—Shares of San Diego’s Acadia Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ACAD), which had run up nearly six-fold since late April on hopes for its lead experimental drug, collapsed after the biotech said Tuesday that the anti-psychosis drug, pimavanserin, had failed in a trial. Acadia’s announcement also was a blow to Biovail, the Toronto-based collaborator that had provided $30 million in funding to help develop pimavanserin for Parkinson’s patients.

CareFusion, a San Diego medical technology company spun off by Ohio-based Cardinal Health (NYSE: CAH), officially became an independent company with shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: CFN). CareFusion’s business, which includes technologies created by San Diego’s Pyxis and Alaris, has about 15,000 employees and $3.7 billion in annual sales. The company’s stock was included in the S&P 500 index.

—Carlsbad, CA-based Medsphere Systems says it raised $12 million in venture funding to expand sales of its OpenVista electronic health record technology. The healthcare IT company’s announcement was among several funding deals in the San Diego region, according to a series of regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Those deals included:

Aubrey, the Carlsbad, CA-based developer of advanced biosynthetic dressings for treating wounds and burns, raised nearly $3.9 million from investors and wants to raise another $2.1 million.

Animal Cell Therapies, the San Diego company developing methods to produce and store animal stem cells, has raised $1.1 million of a planned $1.3 million venture round. The startup’s second focus is to develop stem cell therapies for animals that suffer from acute and chronic diseases.

—San Diego-based MabVax Therapeutics, which is developing new vaccines and human antibodies to treat cancer, raised about $500,000 and intends to raise an additional $3.5 million.

Palkion, a San Diego-based biotech startup, hopes to develop an oral drug that will provide a slow, steady increase in red blood cell levels for patients with anemia. As Luke reported, the company hopes to stake a claim in the $11.5 billion worldwide market for anemic patients.

—Carlsbad, CA-based Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE) says it’s selling its mass spectrometry business, used in molecular analysis, to Washington, D.C.-based Danaher (NYSE: DHR) for $450 million in cash. Life, which was formed last year in the merger of Invitrogen and Applied Biosystems, is focusing on selling biotechnology-related tools with higher profit margins.

—San Diego-based Orexigen Therapeutics (NASDAQ: OREX), which is developing an obesity drug, has looked like a different company since former Amgen vice president Mike Narachi took over as CEO in March. Luke reports that Orexigen has strengthened its financials, added more depth to its bench in management, and issued a comprehensive report on the results of its clinical trials results.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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