It has been a long path for Patrick Alexandre and Crossject, but 2014 looks like being the company’s annus mirabilis. A successful public offering, product development and funding round: enough to make any chief executive’s mouth water. But for the French biotechnology firm, it all began back in 2000, when it designed a needle-free auto-injector.
In 2001 the company was founded out of the historic city of Dijon, and went on developing licenses for companies to create their own drug combinations for needle-free injection. An agreement was signed with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. Progress was moving at a fast pace, as was the market: Visiongain predicts that the global needle-free delivery device market will be worth almost $5.9 billion by 2022.
At the heart of it all was, and is, Zeneo, a needle-free auto-injector that’s pre-fillable, single-use, and able to inject a wide range of drugs without breaking the skin. Medications are administered in just 50 milliseconds thanks to a system that draws on the pneumatics of the auto industry.
“There are several drawbacks involving injectible products,” says Alexandre. “For self-administration there is needle phobia, so if the patient is not comfortable with a needle he will not follow his treatment correctly. The second issue is that if many people self-inject at home, some of the needles may be contaminated…The last point is that when you administer with a needle or a pen, it’s always a complicated thing to do and there’s a risk to miss the administration. So it is mandatory to have solutions that guarantee the full prescribed dose is effectively administered.”
The constant threat of needle sticks is also removed with Zeneo. Around 385,000 people are estimated to be affected by needle sticks per year, in the U.S. alone. However despite all the promise, Zeneo had to wait until 2011 to gain traction once more, following the economic meltdown of 2008. Now the company is VC-backed, including the well-respected Parisian firm Gemmes Venture. Last year, Crossject received $6 million in a refinancing round backed by A Plus Finance, Sofimac Partners and several individual angel investors, to push its products into the late clinical phase.
“Gemmes is the company’s biggest shareholder with a 34.7% stake,” reports unquote.com. “A Plus holds a shareholding of 17%, Sofimac 6.37% and Keensight 3.8%. Crossject first received funding in May 2001, securing €2 million from Gemmes over two rounds, according to unquote data. A further €9 million was then provided by Gemmes and Keensight in August 2006, followed by a €4.6 million round in July last year from A Plus, Gemmes and Sofimac.”
Rejuvenated, Crossject was listed on the pan-European, Paris-based Alternext market on February 20th. Issue price was $11.35, at the high end of its indicative price range. That meant that Crossject’s market capitalization stood at around $71 million, with a total of $23 million raised. The offer was oversubscribed 4.4 times, showing a keen interest in the company. The company posted a turnover of $479.5 million in 2012.
Now, armed with Zeneo, investment, a successful listing and over 380 international patents, Alexandre and Crossject are aiming to take a 10% slice of the needle-free market in ten years. And with industry analysts predicting a boom in the technology, that slice should reach into an eight-figure sum.
“The needle-free delivery market has seen slow growth in recent years and is only now beginning to expand,” says healthcare analyst James Sheppard. “Growth will be driven by new technologies such as microneedle patches and novel jet injectors. Over the course of the next decade there will be greater demand for needle-free delivery devices as the technology becomes more attractive to big pharmaceutical companies.” Crossject has proven that it has the skill and patience to attract investment. Now, with that patience – and investment – paying off, it will hope to continue 2014’s successes into a profitable future.