Esperion: Enough Cash On Hand To Bring Cholesterol-Buster To Market

ANN ARBOR — The pharma startup Esperion Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: ESPR) told its investors this week that following a $200 million public stock sale in March, it “estimates that current cash resources are sufficient to fund the company through 2018 and the expected approval” of its lead drug candidate, a cholesterol-fighter now called ETC-1002.

The drug is intended to lower low-density lipoprotein, the so-called “bad cholesterol,” in patients who have bad reactions to current cholesterol-lowering drugs, called statins. ETC-1002 is being eyed both as a separate drug, and as a drug to be taken in conjunction with statins, allowing a lower dose of statins to be effective in cutting cholesterol and other markers of future cardiac trouble.

Thursday’s announcement from Esperion president and CEO Tim Mayleben called the quarter ended March 31 “another truly transformational quarter. Following the recently announced positive Phase 2b add-on to statin clinical study results of ETC-1002, we are actively preparing to meet with FDA in the third quarter and eager to advance ETC-1002 into Phase 3 development before year end. We have a strong balance sheet, full ownership of the program and tremendous confidence in our ability to execute on the development program for ETC-1002 in primary hyperlipidemia.”

Mayleben reviewed several more positive clinical results for the drug, both independently and as an add-on to statins, showing up to a 50 percent reduction in LDL levels, and reductions in markers of inflammation that are also associated with future cardiovascular disease.

As of March 31, Esperion said it had cash, cash equivalents and investment securities available for sale totaling $322.7 million, up from $141.6 million as of Dec. 31 due to the stock sale.

Research and development expenses were $7.4 million for the first quarter of 2015, up from $5.4 million for the comparable period in 2014, due to further clinical development of ETC-1002.

General and administrative expenses were $4 million for the first quarter of 2015, up from $2.5 million for the comparable period in 2014, due to the cost of public company operations, hiring, increased stock-based compensation, and “other costs to support Esperion’s growth.”

Esperion had a net loss of $11.5 million for the first quarter of 2015, compared to a loss of $7.9 million for the comparable period in 2014.

The company said it expects to use about $42 million in cash to fund its activities in 2015, which would leave it with about $290 million in cash at the end of the year.

To listen to a replay of the of a conference call discussing these results, visit www.esperion.com.

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