* CFO wants reserves to cover at least 12 months’ cash burn
* Expects insomnia drug launch as early as 2021
* Full-year net loss widens to $507 million (Recasts, adds quotes from interview)
By John Miller and Paul Arnold
ZURICH, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Swiss biotech spin-off Idorsia is considering a mix of partnerships and a capital increase to keep its coffers brimming with cash for development of 12 medicines now in its clinical pipeline, finance chief Andre Muller said on Thursday.
The company lost 494 million Swiss francs ($507 million) in 2019, widening from 386 million francs the previous year, as it spent more than half a billion francs to move its drug prospects closer to market.
With nearly $1 billion in liquidity and credit lines still in reserve, Muller and Swiss biotech pioneer Jean-Paul Clozel, the company’s founder, acknowledged that the cash pile is insufficient to fund Idorsia until it reaches the break-even point.
Consequently, they are in talks with potential partners over additional licensing deals for assets including its anti-insomnia drug daridorexant and stroke treatment clazosentan.
“We have different avenues to raise cash; the classical equity route, but we have some other ways, especially with the richer pipeline,” Muller told Reuters.
“It might be a combination of the two. We remain very vigilant, we will remain opportunistic.”
Shares in the company were little changed in early trading but have more than doubled in value since the start of 2019.
Idorsia was founded from assets left over after Clozel sold his first biotech business, Actelion, to Johnson & Johnson in 2017 for $30 billion.
Clozel is sticking to plans to seek regulatory approval for its most advanced prospect, daridorexant, also called DORA, this year and hopes for a worldwide launch at the close of 2021 or the start of 2022.
Idorsia has been forced to switch gears by the coronavirus crisis in China, as recruitment there of patients for a pair of drug trials - for hypertension medicine aprocitentan and lupus drug cenerimod - has ground to a halt.
“Clearly, everything is paralysed in terms of recruitment; people cannot move. You cannot ask patients to go to hospitals now for testing, where hospitals are focusing on this coronavirus,” Clozel said.
“We have decided for these two drugs to recruit at other centres.” ($1 = 0.9746 Swiss francs) (Reporting by John Miller Editing by Kim Coghill and David Goodman)