April 9, 2019
Bioscience Notebook

Trevi files for $86M IPO to fund itching-drug trials

PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed
Trevi Therapeutics CEO Jennifer Good
Photo | Contributed
Biohaven's new Chief Commercial Officer for migraine and common diseases, William (BJ) Jones.

New Haven biopharma Trevi Therapeutics is planning to go public in hopes of raising $86 million to pay for late-stage clinical trials of its drug for severe chronic itching.

The eight-year-old company, based at 195 Church St., filed paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission late last week for the $86 million IPO.

The company has applied to be listed on the Nasdaq under the symbol "TRVI," according to the filing.

Trevi said it will use the money to further develop treatments for chronic pruritus (itching), chronic cough in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and levodopa-induced dyskinesia (a treatment-induced movement disorder) in patients with Parkinson's disease.

The biopharma says opioid receptors in the central and peripheral nervous system play a role in all three conditions. The company has developed an oral version of an older opioid drug, nalbuphine ER, which is FDA-approved to treat pain.

Although it is an opioid, the drug is not considered a controlled substance and the federal government does not classify it as having a high potential for abuse.

The company is currently conducting a Phase 2B/3 clinical trial on the drug for severe itching associated with prurigo nodularis, a condition marked by itchy nodules on the skin.

Trevi has raised $92.2 million since its inception, according to the filing. The company raised $50.5 million of that in 2017, the largest venture capital deal in Connecticut for that year.

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Neuro drug developer Biohaven Pharmaceuticals Holding Co. Ltd. has tapped an executive from global pharma giant Takeda Pharmaceuticals to lead its commercial strategy on a migraine drug nearing FDA approval.

The New Haven-based biotech named William (BJ) Jones chief commercial officer for migraine and common diseases. He shares the CCO title with John Tilton, who will continue to oversee the company's rare and orphan disease programs.

Biohaven also announced it hired Paul Sbrilli, an executive with Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech Biogen, as vice president of market access, reimbursement and payer relations.

The new hires come as Biohaven moves closer to federal approval for two of its drugs — one to treat migraines and another for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Jones will oversee commercial development of Biohaven's migraine drug, rimegepant, as well as for its glutamate-modulating drug for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, obsessive compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, the company said.

Meanwhile, Tilton will head the commercial team for Nurtec (formerly BHV-0223), the company's orally-dissolving drug for ALS. Nurtec is expected to be the first in Biohaven's portfolio to win FDA approval later this year.

"We continue to expand our commercial talent and expertise as we rapidly progress the late stage drug candidates in our portfolio towards potential regulatory approval," said Biohaven CEO Vlad Coric, MD, in a statement. "BJ's appointment supports our evolution as a company, allowing us to establish two separate, strong commercial teams."

Before joining Biohaven, Jones was vice president of sales and commercial operations for Japan-based Takeda, and also held leadership roles in commercial operations at AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Boehringer-Ingelheim.

His experience includes mass-market product launches for well-known brands like Excedrin Migraine, Abilify and others, Biohaven said.

Contact Natalie Missakian at news@newhavenbiz.com

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