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Catalent leads parade of drugmakers headed to market

Stocks in this article: MS JPM ARNA BMRN

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- In a scramble to get while the getting's good, a hair less than two dozen pharmaceutical and biotech companies have filed for initial public offerings in the past few weeks, with many expected to price and begin trading in the coming days. Most are expected to raise less than $80 million.

One exception is Somerset, N.J.-based Catalent Pharma Solutions, which filed Jan. 24 with the SEC to raise up to 
$100 million in an IPO. Catalent has not yet disclosed terms. That number, however, is considered a placeholder and the deal could raise upward of $500 million, according to IPO investment firm Renaissance Capital. Morgan Stanley  (MS) and JPMorgan  (JPM) are joint bookrunners on the deal. Catalent is a leading global provider of oral, injectable and respiratory delivery technologies to pharma companies and booked $1.8 billion in sales for the year ended Sept. 30, 2013.

Four biotech companies could price this week, including Cara Therapeutics, Celladon, Dicerna Pharmaceuticals and Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical. Here's a rundown of those companies, based on information they provided to the SEC:

Pain drug company Cara Therapeutics hopes to raise $60 million by floating 5 million shares within a price range of $11 to $13. The Shelton, Conn., biotech plans to use the funds to further develop compounds to treat acute, chronic and neuropathic pain. Its lead candidate is Kappa-IV CR845 for post-operative pain and Phase 3 clinical trials will begin in the second half of the year. It also is developing an oral version of the drug, expected to enter Phase 2 trials this year.

Cara is expected to price by Friday. It will list on the NASDAQ under the symbol CARA. Cara uses a technology called DimerScreen to develop its drug candidates, based on the fact that clinically effective opioid analgesics and a number of anti-inflammatory agents, such as the leukotriene antagonists, act through kappa opioid receptors in the peripheral nervous system. Such drugs are expected to alleviate pain without the central nervous system-mediated side effects of other types of opioids.

The company was founded in 2004 by Derek Chalmers, president and CEO, Frederique Menzaghi, head of R&D, and Michael Lewis, chief scientific adviser. Chalmers and Lewis co-founded Arena Pharmaceuticals  (ARNA) in 1997. Stifel Nicholaus and Piper Jaffray are joint bookrunners for the IPO. Canaccord Genuity, Needham and Janney Montgomery Scott are co-managers.

Another company expected to begin trading this week, San Diego cardiovascular biotech Celladon was one of a handful of biotechnology companies that postponed their IPOs in mid-November 2013. Celladon revived its IPO filing Jan. 22, with plans to raise $40 million by selling 
5 million shares at $8 each.

Celladon is exploring the development of SERCA enzymes, which regulate intracellular calcium in cells. Calcium dysregulation is implicated in heart failure, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. Celladon's lead compound, Mydicar, uses gene therapy to target the SERCA2a enzyme, a molecular target for heart failure. Nearly half of Celladon's IPO proceeds would be used to develop manufacturing capabilities for commercial production of Mydicar and to complete Mydicar's CUPID 2b clinical trial.

Barclays Capital is the sole bookrunner on the deal. Stifel Nicolaus and Wedbush Securities are co-managers.

Celladon is expected to list on Nasdaq under the symbol CLDN, and begin trading within the week.

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