Biotech Beat: CTI BioPharma Corp (CTIC), ZIOPHARM Oncology Inc. (ZIOP) and Relypsa Inc (RLYP)

CTI BioPharma Corp

CTI BioPharma Corp (NASDAQ:CTIC) shares are tumbling 16.24% to $0.98 after the biopharmaceutical company priced its public offering of 55,000 shares of Series N-2 Preferred Stock at $1,000 per share, each convertible into common stock at $1.10 (50M shares). Holders may convert at any time at their option.

In addition, the company recently announced the initiation of its rolling new drug application (NDA) to the FDA for pacritinib, an investigational oral kinase inhibitor with specificity for JAK2, FLT3, IRAK1 and CSF1R. As part of the application, CTI BioPharma and its partner Baxalta are seeking accelerated approval and priority review for pacritinib for the treatment of patients with intermediate and high-risk myelofibrosis with low platelet counts of less than 50,000 per microliter. Piper Jaffray analyst Charles Duncan noted, “Approval on the single Phase III should accelerate approval by 12 – 15 months and reduces regulatory risk in the US given the clearly defined path forward, which we also speculate could mean good things in the EU. We believe the decision also resolves significant investor uncertainty around the data needed for approval. Given enhanced visibility for pacritinib.”

ZIOPHARM Oncology Inc.

ZIOPHARM Oncology Inc. (NASDAQ:ZIOP) shares are falling 7.30% to $11.30 after Wells Fargo analyst Jim Birchenough initiated coverage on the stock with an Underperform rating. Birchenough has recently moved from BMO to Wells Fargo Equity Research team as a senior biotechnology analyst. According to, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, Birchenough has a yearly average return of 31.5% and a 54% success rate. Birchenough has a 42.9% average return when recommending ZIOP, and is ranked #26 out of 3631 analysts.

Relypsa Inc

Relypsa Inc (NASDAQ:RLYP) shares spiked today following rumors that Merck plans to make a non-binding offer to acquire Relypsa. In addition, Merrill Lynch analyst Catherine Hu also weighed in today on Relypsa, stating that a recent survey of physicians delivered highly encouraging results for Veltassa, the company’s treatment for high levels of potassium in the blood (also called hyperkalemia). Hu noted, “We conducted a survey of 60 physicians to gauge their perception of the Veltassa FDA approval and black box warning on potential drug/drug interactions (DDIs) as well as the hyperkalemia (HK) market opportunity. The survey results were highly encouraging and suggest a large market opportunity with significant use of these new hyperkalemia therapies and favorable views on Veltassa’s competitive position in the market. RLYP is on track to launch Veltassa in the US in the first week of January. We expect a gradual launch and estimate sales of ~$23M in 2016 and peak sales of ~$600M in the US.”

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