ARS Pharmaceuticals, a pre-commercial pharmaceutical company, raised $55 million in Series D funding to back preparations for the launch of its lead product Neffy, an epinephrine nasal spray.
SR One Capital Management, a life science venture capital firm that spun out of GlaxoSmithKline, led the funding round along with RA Capital Management, Deerfield Management and an undisclosed U.S.-based, healthcare-focused fund.
The Series D financing round will help advance Neffy through the approval process, as the company seeks to commercially launch it as an easy-to-use, convenient, and more reliable treatment for severe allergic reactions to food, medications and insect bites that could lead to life-threatening anaphylaxis.
ARS Pharma was founded in 2015 by industry veteran, Richard Lowenthal, who serves as chief executive officer and president. According to ARS Pharma, the company has raised more than $100 million to date through a combination of equity financing and partnership deals outside the U.S.
“This additional funding will allow us to focus on pre-launch activities for Neffy and additional research and development for a second indication for nasal epinephrine that we believe can add significant value to the ARS portfolio,” Lowenthal said.
New Treatment Option
The local life science company is preparing to launch Neffy into an existing U.S. market with approximately $1 billion in net annual sales of generic EpiPen, the epinephrine autoinjector that is currently used for the treatment of anaphylaxis.
That being said, ARS Pharma sees an opportunity to not only break into this market, but also create a paradigm shift in the treatment options for patients. Anaphalaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur in minutes from an allergen such as a bee sting or peanuts.
“One thing important about this disease is the sooner you treat yourself, the better the outcome,” Lowenthal explained. “But if you allow the reaction to progress, your body starts out reacting to the antigen — it gets worse and worse and worse.”
Lowenthal said what they are trying to do is create a solution that nips the issue in the bud, before a patient escalates to anaphalxis. Beyond the issue of the allergic reaction itself, he said that often times people wait to inject themselves with an EpiPen due to hesitancy of the needle, not wanting to use it in public or not having an EpiPen on hand.
While the generic EpiPen treatment remains an effective option, Neffy is an aqueous formulation of epinephrine nasal spray uniquely developed with Intravail, a novel nasal absorption enhancing technology. Lowenthal added that the Neffy device is small enough to carry in the pocket of your jeans and has been designed to be used easily without a long, laundry list of instructions.
“I always joke you know that you got your keys, your wallet, your earbuds and your nasal spray to take it with you,” Lowental said.
Education is another key to getting Neffy on the path to the commercial market. Lowenthal said they even chose the name Neffy because it is unthreatening, kid friendly, easy to say and hits home their goal of making this treatment more accessible.
The company is prepping for FDA approval and the funding will help to evaluate Neffy in clinical studies for additional indications.
Part of the prelaunch activities for ARS Pharma will be building out their commercial team, including hiring a chief commercial officer, as well as key marketing positions. The company currently has eight full-time employees based in San Diego.
Part of the new round of funding went toward the appointment of Rajeev Dadoo, Ph.D., managing partner of SR One, and Peter Kolchinsky, Ph.D., managing partner and founder of RA Capital to the ARS Pharma board of directors. This also builds on the recent appointment of Brent Saunders, CEO, president and chairman of Vesper Healthcare Acquisition Corp.
CEO: Richard Lowenthal
HEADQUARTERS: Del Mar
BUSINESS: Pharmaceutical company developing an epinephrine nasal spray.
EMPLOYEES: 8 employees
NOTABLE: ARS Pharma has raised $100M+ in funding and partnership deals to date.