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Life Science Leaders Discuss Strategies for Surviving the Financial Crisis at Yankee Public Relations Symposium
Date:6/18/2009

'Funding Biopharma: Strategies for Reaching Investors in a Financial Crisis' Draws Regional Biopharmaceutical Executives, Investment Leaders

BASKING RIDGE, N.J., June 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Biotech companies throughout the country are reeling from the economic recession with half of the industry's 370 small-cap funds slated to run out of cash before 2010, regional biopharmaceutical executives and investment market leaders concluded during a life sciences symposium presented by Yankee Public Relations. Panelists and attendees at "Funding Biopharma: Strategies for Reaching Investors in a Financial Crisis," emphasized the importance of intensifying investor relations efforts as biotechs continue to struggle with the market meltdown.

"I am seeing many situations in the private company and venture capital deal world with mistakes being made by companies pressed to the wall," said Jeffrey Nicholas, J.D., a Partner at Fox Rothschild in Princeton. "They don't necessarily take a good measure of their investors and realize what an asset their investor base can be. There is an intense public relations effort that should be deployed, in my view, in connection with any down round. It's no surprise to investors that a down round may be necessary, but how you communicate that message is very important. So the cautionary note is that companies need to put themselves in the position of the investor and realize how important it is to get the message out."

Yankee Public Relations President Fred Feiner moderated three panel discussions focused on successful finance strategies, the current investment market and regulatory tactics to maximize profitability. In a panel discussion of biotech executives from public and private companies, Ellen McDonald, Regado Biosciences Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer noted how the changing climate has impacted the Basking Ridge-based company.

"I firmly believe two years ago the firm I'm with would already have been bought by a pharmaceutical company," said McDonald. "Essentially the lesson we have learned is never give up because the world keeps changing. Keep going forward on all fronts and never give up because everything is dynamic right now. Keep raising awareness about your company and building networks and getting well known."

John Pennett, C.P.A., a Partner and Director of Life Sciences with Amper, Politziner & Mattia in Edison, emphasized the importance of a company's reputation when pursuing funding.

"At the end of the day, it's all about credibility," said Pennett. "There are a lot of early stage companies out there and it really comes down to credibility. It's the credibility of the plan, it's the credibility of the pathway to commercialization, it's the credibility of the management team and the credibility of the financial plan."

"There are no shortcuts to credibility," added Feiner. "From an investor relations perspective, it is vitally important to be known and known to be trusted. The absolute worst position to find yourself in is asking people for money when they have not heard of you."

Several panelists emphasized how difficult it has become for early stage companies to get funding.

"On the private company side, it has been difficult to fund early stage, pre-clinical or stage one," said Emilio Ragosa, J.D., a Partner in Business Finance with Morgan Lewis in Princeton. "It's mainly later stage deals that are getting done. And for those companies that have not been able to get funding, we have seen a number of distressed sales."

Gene Detroyer, a Director with Five Prime Advisors in New York City, emphasized that the current crisis is unlike anything the industry has seen before and big pharma is unlikely to come to the rescue.

"Big pharma is in the business of delivering drugs through their channels," said Detroyer. "They need billion dollar drugs to justify supporting their channels. So if you think you're going to cash out with big pharma, don't wait for it. Find ways to incrementally increase the value of your company. There was a similar crisis in 2001, but this one is much deeper. It will take much longer to come out of it. Those folks with funds are more reticent. They are looking at a completely different risk-reward equation."

Symposium panelists also included: Annarie Lyles, Ph.D., Genmab, Senior Vice President/Head of Business Development; Andrew Reaume, Ph.D., M.B.A., Melior Discovery, President/CEO; Evan Myrianthopoulos, DOR Biopharma, Chief Financial Officer/Senior Vice President; Avjit Roy, Ph.D., Five Prime Advisors, Director; Mike Page, United BioSource Corp., Sr. Director, Regulatory Affairs; Linda Pissott Reig, J.D., Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, Principal; Nigel Smart, Ph.D., Smart Consulting, Managing Partner; and Vincent A. Vietti, J.D., Fox Rothschild, Partner.

Yankee Public Relations

Yankee Public Relations LLC is a boutique investor relations, marketing communications and media relations firm with more than 45 years of combined experience leading proactive communications initiatives in the life sciences and finance industries. For more information, please visit www.yankeepr.com.


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