July 20, 2024

Verona Gets $400M Boost from Oxford Finance, Hercules Capital for COPD Candidate


Pictured: Stack of $100 bills / iStock, Nattakorn Maneerat

Verona Pharma, a biotech working on treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, has been given a financial boost of up to $400 million from two capital firms, the company announced Tuesday.

Under a debt financing facility, Verona will receive up to$400 million from funds that Oxford Finance and Hercules Capital manage. According to Verona, the facility will provide non-dilutive capital and “financial flexibility” to support its growth and assist with the commercial launch of its drug candidate ensifentrine, designed to treat COPD.

The deal will see Verona draw $50 million at closing and can draw an additional $100 million if ensifentrine is approved by the FDA. Once certain net sales milestones are met, $150 million can be obtained in two tranches. Another $100 million will also be available to “support strategic initiatives” at the biotech. Verona will pay interest on outstanding loans under the facility for the first 53 months.

The debt facility will also replace an existing facility of up to $150 million it had with an affiliate of Oxford Finance. That deal was made in October 2022 after Verona showed positive Phase III results for ensifentrine.

“This new facility, along with our existing cash, which was $257.4 million on September 30, 2023, provides us with additional financial flexibility to support Verona Pharma’s continued growth, including the planned launch of ensifentrine in the U.S., if approved,” Verona CEO David Zaccardelli said in a statement. 

In September 2023, Verona announced that the FDA had accepted its NDA and sought approval for its drug. The agency set a PDUFA date for June 26, 2024, and is not planning to hold advisory committee meetings to discuss the application.

“As we anticipate their first potential approval of the company’s lead product candidate, ensifentrine, for the maintenance treatment of patients with COPD, our increased loan facility underscores our commitment to advancing ground-breaking solutions for respiratory health,” Adam Soller, managing director at Oxford, said in a statement. 

Verona’s COPD drug candidate met its primary endpoint in 2022, showing a change from the baseline in the FEV area under the curve 0-12 hours post-dose at week 12 and earning a p-value of p<0.0001. Vernoa also noted that the drug had “demonstrated consistent improvements” in all subgroups. 

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at tyler.patchen@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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