Texas Biotech ZS Pharma Makes Wall Street Debut, Raises $107M

6/18/14Follow @angelashah

ZS Pharma, which is making a therapy for kidney disease, makes its debut on the Nasdaq today after pricing its IPO at $18 per share, above its projected range of $15 to $17.

The pricing of 5.9 million shares—versus the 5 million originally planned—raises $107 million and marks the first appearance on Wall Street in nine years for a Texas biotech. ZS Pharma, based in the Fort Worth suburb of Coppell, TX, is trading under the ticker symbol “ZSPH.” JP Morgan and Credit Suisse acted as joint bookrunners on the deal.

The company raised a $55 million Series D funding round in March for drug development costs and to prep for filing new drug applications with the FDA and the European Medicines Agency by early 2015. Investors in that round included Devon Park Bioventures, Sofinnova Ventures, Adage Capital, and 3×5 Special Opportunity Fund.

ZS Pharma is developing ZS-9, a drug to reduce levels of potassium levels in patients who have hyperkalemia, a chronic kidney disease that affects 26 million people in the U.S. Hyperkalemia patients have elevated levels of potassium in the blood, which can lead to potentially deadly arrythmias, an irregular heart rhythm. ZS-9 is a white odorless, tasteless powder that can be combined with water to make a suspension.

Preliminary results from a phase 3 trial of 753 patients with mild-to-moderate hyperkalemia last year showed that the drug was able to reduce excess levels of potassium those patients. The study randomly assigned patients to get one of four doses—1.25 grams, 2.5 grams, 5 grams, and 10 grams—or a placebo, three times a day for two days. The company reported that the drug led to declines in potassium in 48 hours and that the drug appeared to be safe over the two-day period.

At the time, the company did not reveal the baseline levels of patients’ potassium levels. I have a message into ZS Pharma to see about getting additional information on the study.

“The thing we’re most excited about is that the drug is shown to be active and extremely safe,” Robert Alexander, ZS Pharma’s executive chairman, said last fall. “As potent as this drug is, we are thrilled to learn that it can be well tolerated.”

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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