Swedish Startup Mulls Listing in AbbVie Parkinson’s Challenge
(Bloomberg) -- Lobsor Pharmaceuticals AB is considering an initial public offering to supercharge European expansion after its Parkinson’s treatment was just approved by the Swedish Medical Products Agency.
The Swedish startup is reviewing options, which include selling shares on Stockholm’s First North Premium marketplace, Chairman Ulf Rosen said in an interview in Stockholm. Uppsala-based Lobsor could also turn to private equity for funding or finance an expansion using its own funds and expected revenue from the Nordic region. It plans to decide on a path in the spring, he said.
The Swedish granting of marketing authorization of Lobsor’s Lecigon therapeutic system for symptomatic treatment of advanced Parkinson’s disease last week paves the way for sales in the Nordic region in a first phase. The company will then seek to expand in the rest of Europe as it seeks to dethrone AbbVie Inc.’s Duodopa as the leading brand for gel treatments of patients with advanced Parkinson’s. An IPO would enable a more “aggressive” expansion by Lobsor, while using its own cash would mean a slower roll-out, Rosen said.
“We can now start the process of commercialization,” Rosen, who founded Lobsor in 2013, said. “In order to significantly accelerate this, we see a public listing as a possibility. But we’d like to better understand initial traction in the market before finally deciding direction and pace of expansion."
The market for intestinal infusion based on levodopa is completely dominated by AbbVie, which derived $405 million in revenue from Duodopa sales in the 12 months through June, and saw sales of the treatment grow by 31 percent in the first half of 2018. Like AbbVie’s product, Lobsor’s Lecigon gel is infused directly into the small intestine, but it uses a pump that is smaller and lighter than the one used for Duodopa.
The Swedish company sees a large potential to win over Duodopa users and is also betting that patients who have been deterred by the larger pump in AbbVie’s system will be attracted by Lecigon, which Lobsor claims is easier to operate and allows for lower doses of the drug’s active ingredient, levodopa.
“The size and operation of the pump has been a large problem,” said Rosen. “There is even a number of people who decline to use this therapy because the pump is so large and cumbersome to carry.”
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition that impacts the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine, which plays several important roles in bodily functions and the brain. Symptoms include muscle rigidity, tremors and changes in speech and gait. While treatments can reduce symptoms, there is no cure.
Lobsor’s product is set to start selling in Sweden, and the company aims to bring it to all Nordic markets within a year after already signing a collaboration agreement with NordicInfu Care. The company aims to then be present in all key European markets within two years and is also considering a rollout in countries further afield, such as Japan, Australia and South America.
Lobsor’s investors have recently also set up a separate company, Intrance Medical Systems Inc., to handle its U.S. expansion, targeting FDA clearance within three to four years. That entity is contemplating pursuing a stateside listing.
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