Botanix Pharmaceuticals (ASX:BOT) cap raising


by Jessica Amir

Botanix Pharmaceuticals Limited (ASX:BOT) Executive Director Matthew Callahan talks about the company's cap raising, promising proof points in the performance of cannabinoids in treating skin disease and strategic goals for the next 6 months.

Jessica Amir: Hi there. I'm Jessica Amir for the Finance News Network, and joining us now from Botanix Pharmaceuticals, ticker code BOT, is executive director and founder Matthew Callahan.

Hi, Matthew, great to see you again, and welcome to the work and thanks for joining us from Pennsylvania in the US.

Matthew Callahan: Thanks so much.

Jessica Amir: First up, Botanix share price is up 243 per cent year-to-date as of the 1st of August, and today's announcement signals even more positive momentum in the market. Just tell me about the capital raise that you've announced and what it means for your supporters.

Matthew Callahan: Yeah, so it's been very pleasing, obviously, the share price performance throughout the year, but, obviously, what we've been able to achieve today is for the first time to bring in some US institutions onto the register. We've been able to raise about 40 million Australian and bring in about 10 institutional biotech specialist investors onto the register as part of this capital raising.

Jessica Amir: You've also increased the count of skilled US professionals in your executive management team. Just tell us who you recruited and why you recruited them in this past quarter.

Matthew Callahan: Today, we were able to announce the recruitment of two executives to the team. Obviously, as we build the capability in the US leading up to our phase II data, we're looking to add particular skills that contribute to the ultimate commercialization of our products, so, today we announced the recruitment of Howie McKibbon, who's come on board as our chief commercial officer. Howie's got more than 25 years of pharmaceutical experience, a good portion of that is in dermatology, and he's been involved with a couple of very successful companies, Medicis and Anacor as two examples.

The other guy that we were able to recruit was Ric Peterson, so Ric's coming on board as our CFO in the states. He's spent about 15 years with Medicis. He's probably been involved with two or three of the last dermatology NASDAQ listings as well, so a very experienced team contributing an enormous amount of both commercial and operational experience to the company.

Jessica Amir: How will the funds from this placement support Botanix's broader research and development goals?

Matthew Callahan: This fundraising came very quickly off the back of the data release that we did at the end of June, for the first time demonstrating the mechanism of action for the drugs that we're developing in both atopic dermatitis and acne, and, really, the focus for these funds, given the interest and the support that we had from US institutions is about accelerating the program as much as we can, so we're going to use these funds to obviously finish the phase two studies that we have underway at the moment, but also to do some of those studies that we need to get completed in parallel or in advance of phase three studies for the two programs, but also to bring our anti-microbial program into the clinic. We've got a lot of very interesting applications for CBD with our technology in the area of anti-microbials, so we're going to use some of those funds to bring the first of those programs into the clinic and then drive towards just general commercial development over the next 12 months

Jessica Amir: Just on the applications, Botanix has discovered promising proof points in the performance of the cannabinoids in treating skin disease, so why are you so optimistic about the potential for Botanix's products to improve lives?

Matthew Callahan: I mean, we've heard a lot of buzz in the media over the last 12 to 24 months about the potential for CBD, and, really, as a company, what we try to do is be driven by science and demonstrate in well-controlled clinical studies exactly what this drug can do for important diseases in the skin area.

The data that we released in June around the anti-microbial effect as well as the anti-inflammatory effect really base load most of the skin diseases that we will be working in, and so, really, the promise here is to have a drug that is very safe, and we know from our studies and other studies that CBD is very safe, but to deliver it in an effective fashion to treat a range of skin diseases and also a range of different bacterial infections that currently are not addressed, and we think those opportunities are kind of a low hanging fruit that leverage the full benefits of the CBD molecule and allow us to create a portfolio of products that ultimately will deliver a lot of value to shareholders.

Jessica Amir: Can you share some insights into the company's strategic goals and also the priorities for the next six months?

Matthew Callahan: We've got a very busy six months ahead of us. Coming up, we have the finalization of the acne study, which will happen in the course of this quarter, a phase two study, and then, next quarter, the finalization of atopic dermatitis study, and then, obviously, the reporting of data from each of those studies soon after completion of those studies. At the same time, we plan to expand and to accelerate our anti-microbial program by bringing the first of those products into the clinic.

As you've seen from the announcements today, we've also augmented our commercial capability, and so we're hoping to start to engage some of the partners that we've been speaking to for some time to see whether we can develop relationships with them, start to put in place some of those arrangements to drive the ultimate commercialization of these products within the next 24 months.

Jessica Amir: Just lastly, Matt, before we let you go, do you have a parting message for your shareholders and supporters on the back of the recent capital raising announcement?

Matthew Callahan: Yeah, so the first message obviously is thank you for the ongoing support that we've had. We've had a bunch of very, very supportive shareholders from the start of the company, which seems like a long time ago, but it's really only less than three years ago on the ASX market, so, really, what we can look forward to within the next 12 months is a number of exciting data announcements, obviously, the continual building of the team, the broadening of the scientific platform behind what we're doing with the use of CBD in a skin and anti-microbial application, so good news flow.

We have planned an increasing sophistication of the management team, and, obviously, we're now very well-funded to execute on our existing programs and those programs that we intend to bring into the clinic, and I think, as we see around the world at the moment, this is a very hot space to be in. We're very fortunate to be at the front of that with the clinical development that we've done over the last three years, and the opportunities for value creation continue to present themselves over the next 12 months, and we're very excited about that.

Jessica Amir: Matthew Callahan, thank you so much for your time, and congratulations again on all your success.

Matthew Callahan: Thanks so much.


Jessica Amir

Finance News Network
Jessica joined FNN in January 2017 after having worked in financial advising for seven years and in TV journalism for seven years, specialising in finance, equities and analysis. She has interviewed former Prime Ministers of Australia, Tony Abbott, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd and ex Treasurer Jo Hockey. Jessica has worked as a journalist with Sky News Business, ABC 1, ABC's The Business, ABC24 and has also been a regional Channel 7 and 9 TV reporter with Prime7 and Win News.