Backed by baby-food mogul Paul Manning, Durham drug developer plans IPO

Backed by baby-food mogul Paul Manning, Durham drug developer plans IPO

North Carolina’s life-science industry gets more intriguing by the day, it seems. The state’s newest public company is likely to be Dova Pharmaceuticals, a Durham-based drug developer that filed June 2 for a $75 million initial public offering. Its drugs are intended to focus on low blood platelet count disorders.

Director Paul B. Manning, 61, controls 85% of the company’s stock through his PBM Capital private-equity group. A resident of Charlottesville, Va., he founded his fund after selling his infant-formula and baby-food company, PBM, to Perrigo Corp. for $800 million in 2010.

Another investor, Perceptive Life Sciences Master Fund, invested $10 million in Dova late last year as part of a $29 million series A funding.

Dova has posted $27 million in net losses since its March 2016 inception, mostly from R&D expenses. It has not generated revenue.

CEO Alex Sapir, 50, is a former exec at United Therapeutics, the Maryland-based pharma company with a big Triangle presence. Manning’s PBM Capital has had success in other drug-development investments.

But biotech investing isn’t for the faint of heart. Dova Chief Medical Officer Lee Allen previously worked at Durham-based Argos Therapeutics, which went public in 2014 for about $10 a share but now trades at less than 50 cents.

J.P. Morgan, Jefferies, and Leerink Partners are Dova’s main deal underwriters.

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