Omthera Pharmaceuticals raises $33.9 million in Series B funding led by New Enterprise Associates

The capital raised will be used to fund the Phase III clinical development of Omthera's novel Omega-3 fatty acid compound, Epanova, and for general corporate purposes

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BEDMINSTER, N.J.—Omthera Pharmaceuticals Inc., a privately-held emerging specialty pharmaceuticals company, announced March 14 that it has raised $33.9 million in a Series B funding round led by new investor New Enterprise Associates (NEA). Existing investor Sofinnova Partners also participated in the financing. The capital raised will be used to fund the Phase III clinical development of Omthera's novel Omega-3 fatty acid compound, Epanova, and for general corporate purposes. With this latest round, Omthera has raised approximately $40.4 million in venture capital since it began operations in 2009.

Speaking to that clinical trial activity, the company also noted the same day that it has started its pivotal Phase III EVOLVE (EpanoVa fOr Lowering Very high triglyceridEs) trial for Epanova, for the treatment of patients with very high triglycerides (greater than or equal to 500 mg/dL). In January 2011, the company announced data from its ECLIPSE (Epanova Compared to Lovaza In a Pharmacokinetic Single-dose Evaluation) trial, designed to evaluate the bioavailability of Epanova in comparison to Lovaza, the leading prescription Omega-3. Data from the trial reportedly showed that the bioavailability of Epanova was dramatically superior to Lovaza.

"Omthera continues to generate very positive data indicating that Epanova has the potential to become the best-in-class therapy in the nearly $2 billion worldwide Rx Omega-3 market and an important treatment for the millions of patients suffering from high triglycerides," says Jerry Wisler, president, CEOr and co-founder of Omthera. "As such, we are delighted to gain the support of a venture capital firm of the stature of NEA to lead this substantial new funding."

David M. Mott, formerly the CEO of MedImmune, and now a general partner at NEA, has joined Omthera's board of directors, bringing the board to four members.

"The participation of Sofinnova Partners, together with David and NEA, reflects the market's confidence in the potential of Epanova," Wisler continues. "The funds raised in this latest round will enable Omthera to progress its clinical program with Epanova in patients with very high triglyceride levels and mixed dyslipidemia through to a New Drug Application filing, which is anticipated to occur in 2012."

Noting, of course, that he was pleased to join the board, Mott adds that he believes strongly in the value proposition for Omthera. "Management's significant expertise and proven track record have allowed the company to move rapidly since inception to bring the clinical development of Epanova to this important inflection point," he says. "There is a distinct market need for a more effective and convenient prescription-strength Omega-3 treatment option for patients suffering from very high triglycerides who need to maintain a low-fat diet. Data generated to date indicates that Epanova has solid promise in this area, with the potential to deliver improved and more predictable bioavailability than currently available ethyl ester-based formulations of Omega-3s. Epanova has the potential to capture significant market share and eclipse currently available therapies to become the drug of choice."

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