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Avanir Increases 1st-Quarter Net Loss

San Diego-based biotechnology company Avanir Pharmaceuticals Inc. said on Feb. 10 that it increased its first-quarter net loss for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31 to $7.1 million, or 7 cents per share, from $6.3 million, or 9 cents per share, in the same year-earlier period.

Avanir, which sells an over-the-counter cold sore cream, said first-quarter revenues fell to $888,000 from $1.5 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2004.

As of Dec. 31, Avanir had $26.4 million in cash.

The firm is getting ready to file an application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seeking approval for an experimental pain treatment called Neurodex.

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The FDA has told Avanir that Neurodex could qualify for “priority review,” a designation given to drugs that address an unmet medical need.

Avanir also has a compound for treating asthma and allergies and several other compounds for treating inflammation, atherosclerosis and infections in its program.

In December, Avanir completed a stock offering, raising $7 million.

Avanir shares, which trade under the ticker symbol AVN on the American Stock Exchange, closed at $3.24 on Feb. 10.

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U.S.-Based, Japanese-Traded:

San Diego-based specialty pharmaceutical firm MediciNova, Inc. recently became the first U.S.-based biotech to debut on the Osaka Securities Exchange in Japan, raising $107.7 million in net proceeds.

But its Japanese roots run deeper.

For one, its founders are Japanese: Drs. Yuichi Iwaki, MediciNova’s chairman, and Takashi Kiyoizumi, MediciNova’s chief executive officer, set up the firm four years ago.

Kiyoizumi is a former chief executive of Tanabe Research Laboratories, the U.S. arm of Tanabe Seiyaku Co., Japan’s oldest and 10th largest pharmaceutical company.

Secondly, 70 percent of the firm’s venture capital backers are in Japan, said Kiyoizumi.

And five of the firm’s six compounds came from you guessed it , Japan.

“Since we don’t do discovery ourselves, it’s important to secure a good flow of compounds and Japan is a good source for high-quality compounds,” Kiyoizumi said.

The listing in Japan was strategic.

Kiyoizumi says it opens the door to more in-licensing opportunities from Japan’s pharma industry, an untapped market.

“(By listing in Japan), we can do fund raising and increase our visibility and credibility in Japan,” he said.

In September, MediciNova raised $44 million in a third round of financing led by Essex Woodlands Health Ventures, but backed by multiple Japanese investors.

Among them were the University of Tokyo Edge Capital, J.F.E., Mizuho Securities and Nippon Venture Capital.

Asked about his planned use of the proceeds from the initial public offering, Kiyoizumi said 70 percent or 80 percent will go toward advancing current projects and the rest will be used to license compounds.

MediciNova has 22 employees working on compounds aiming to treat multiple diseases.

Five of the firm’s experimental drugs are now in the second stage of human trials for asthma, anxiety, premature labor, multiple sclerosis, and interstitial cystitis.

The other compounds are less advanced.

Kiyoizumi said he couldn’t give financial details since the firm is still in a quiet period following the recent IPO.

But he said that MediciNova now has $150 million in cash.

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UCSD’s $10 Million Gift:

UC San Diego said on Feb. 10 that it landed a $10 million gift from Richard and Maria (Gaby) Sulpizio to help build a patient care and clinical research center.

Sulpizio is the chairman of the UCSD Cardiovascular Center board of directors.

UCSD has raised $30 million, which is enough cash to begin construction of the building, to be located near the John M. and Sally B. Thornton Hospital on the university’s La Jolla campus.

The center will be named the Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center.

Rich Sulpizio has held various executive positions at the San Diego-based wireless giant Qualcomm Inc., last serving as president and chief operating officer until he retired in 1991.

Gaby Sulpizio has been active in educational organizations on the local, district and state levels.

The couple live in La Jolla and Santa Ynez.

Contact Marion Webb at (858) 277-6359, Ext. 3108, or e-mail her at marionw@sdbj.com.


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