Genfit, developing drugs for NASH, to trade on Nasdaq

The company, one of several developing drugs for the growing fatty liver disease, said in an SEC filing that it would sell its shares at $26.33 apiece.

A French company specializing in treatments for a form of fatty liver disease becoming more common around the world due to the rise in obesity plans to start selling its shares on the Nasdaq.

Genfit, based near Lille, said Thursday that it had launched a global offering, with the intention of selling 5 million ordinary shares through the Nasdaq and also a private placement of ordinary shares in Europe and other ex-US countries. The company was already publicly traded on the Euronext Paris exchange and also traded on the over-the-counter market in the US.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the company said it would sell the shares at $26.33, with the anticipation of raking in $119.2 million and a proposed maximum aggregate offering price of $151.4 million. It had filed a draft registration statement for the listing in November and an F-1 form last month.

Following the news, Genfit’s shares were down slightly in Europe, but up slightly on the OTC market.

Genfit’s lead product candidate is elafibranor, which it is developing for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, a type of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, also known as NAFLD, which is growing in prevalence alongside the increase in obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The drug is currently in a pivotal Phase III study, which in December passed its data safety monitoring board’s approval to continue after a pre-planned safety analysis.

Given its rising prevalence, NASH represents a particularly valuable opportunity for drugmakers. According to a report in November by research firm GlobalData, the global market for the condition across seven major markets – the US, Japan and Europe’s five largest economies – is set to reach $18.3 billion by 2026, assuming a 63 percent annual growth rate. While there are drugs in development for the disease, including elafibranor, none has yet won regulatory approval.

“There are currently no therapeutic options approved to treat patients with NASH, meaning there is a high unmet need for drugs which are able to manage this potentially life-threatening condition,” GlobalData analyst Thomas Moore said in a statement. “As a result, any new drug which is proven to help patients with NASH is expected to see rapid uptake and generate significant market growth.”

New York-based Intercept Pharmaceuticals could be the first to win such an approval, following the announcement last month of positive Phase III data for its drug, obeticholic acid, in patients with liver fibrosis due to the disease. On the other hand, Gilead Sciences’ drug, selonsertib, failed in its own Phase III trial just days before Intercept’s announcement.

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