Less than a week after announcing it was winding down operations, KaloBios said yesterday it may yet rise from the dead thanks in large part to Martin Shkreli.
The troubled biotech confirmed that it was in talks “regarding possible direction for the company to continue in operation” with an investor group consisting of Shkreli, the Turing Pharmaceuticals founder and CEO, and associates.
The group has acquired more than 50% of KaloBios’ outstanding shares, the company said.
“We have received communications from Mr. Shkreli informing us of his group's ownership position, and a proposal to continue the company's operations,” KaloBios Executive Chairman Ronald Martell said yesterday in a statement.
Following the disclosure yesterday, shares of KaloBios zoomed more than 800% in after-hours trading on NASDAQ, where shares yesterday closed at $2.07. As of 10:25 a.m. today, KaloBios shares traded at 11.76 per share, up 468% from the close.
Shkreli became a household name in September when his Turing Pharmaceuticals, sparked a furor with a 5000% price hike for toxoplasmosis drug Daraprim. Since then, he and Turing have said they will continue the company’s focus on developing and commercializing drugs with limited or no existing treatments.
Turing’s pipeline has no cancer drugs such as those KaloBios would deliver. In addition to Daraprim, Turing has another commercial product, Vecamyl® (mecamylamine HCl tablets) for hypertension.
The company’s pipeline includes TUR-002 (intranasal ketamine) for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder, which will begin Phase I trials by Q1 2016; TUR-004 for epileptic encephalopathies, set to begin Phase I trials this month; and TUR-001 or Syntocinon® (oxytocin nasal solution) for multiple indications led by lactation, for which the compound is in Phase II.
Last week the company reported combined net revenue of $5.6 million from Daraprim and Vecamyl during the third quarter, when it spent approximately $7 million on R&D. Turing finished Q3 with a net loss of $14.59 million, just over half of the $27.729 million in net losses reported for the first nine months of this year.
On Monday and Tuesday, Shkreli bought more than 1.2 million shares of KaloBios stock at prices per share that ranged from 3 cents to $2.45, according to a regulatory filing.
Additional filings showed that during that same two-day period, KaloBios shares were also acquired by Anthion Partners II, which bought a total 713,726 shares at prices ranging from 7 cents to $1.96 per share.
“Our board of directors is prepared to entertain any constructive proposal, which we will act upon promptly. Addressing short-term cash needs is our first priority, and we continue to be open to further dialogue,” Martell added.
On Friday, KaloBios said it was shutting down its operations. To that effect, the company added, it had engaged The Brenner Group to lead wind-down efforts that were to include a phase out of the remaining 11 employees over 30 to 60 days.
KaloBios’ latest announcement did not address the fate of those employees.
Also last week, KaloBios said it would end its two clinical programs: KB004, an anti-EphA3 monoclonal antibody that had begun a Phase II study for blood cancers, and lenzilumab (KB003), an anti- granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) monoclonal antibody set to begin a Phase I study later this year in chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML).
On November 5, KaloBios said it would lay off 61% of its workforce—17 employees—and was “evaluating strategic alternatives” including a possible sale of the company.
Four days later, KaloBios’ CFO and interim CEO Herb Cross bought 1,875 option shares that will vest and become exercisable as of November 9, 2016, at a conversion or exercise price of 95 cents per share.