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Big in Japan


The Seattle-based biotech Acucela is shunning Wall Street to sell 9.2 million shares of stock in an initial public offering (IPO) on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. At $17.65 per share, it should raise $162.3 million.

Although there’s no precedent for Acucela’s move, there are a couple of possible reasons as to why this US biotech firm has chosen to float  in Tokyo. First, the founder and CEO of Acucela, Ryo Kubota, is Japanese. Second, Acucela has many ongoing collaborations with Tokyo-based Otsuka Pharmaceuticals Co. The companies suffered a setback last year when a dry eye therapy that they were co-developing, rebamipide, failed in phase III. But Acucela has a pipeline that investors are likely to believe in. It includes emixustat (ACU-4429), an oral treatment for dry AMD that’s currently in phase IIb/III trials and that has already received fast-track status from the FDA; and OPA-6566, a topical glaucoma therapy that’s currently in phase I.

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About the Author
Mark Hillen

I spent seven years as a medical writer, writing primary and review manuscripts, congress presentations and marketing materials for numerous – and mostly German – pharmaceutical companies. Prior to my adventures in medical communications, I was a Wellcome Trust PhD student at the University of Edinburgh.

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