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Open Orphan plc (ORPH) Demerger Update

Demerger Update

Further to Open Orphan’s announcement on 14 June 2021 in relation to the distribution in specie, the boards of Open Orphan and Poolbeg Pharma are pleased to announce Poolbeg’s intention to seek admission of its shares to trading on AIM, a market of the London Stock Exchange (“Admission”). Funds raised as part of Admission will be used primarily to fund the clinical trial costs associated with the development of the Company’s POLB 001 asset as a treatment for severe influenza and to acquire and develop new portfolio assets.


Wide asset portfolio

  • Attractive lead asset  POLB 001:
    • First-in-class, Phase II ready small molecule immunomodulator for severe influenza.
    • Addresses unmet need for effective treatments against severe influenza (c. $800m addressable market)
    • Applications beyond influenza are possible with label extensions (and the Company holds worldwide rights for all uses)
  • Vaccine Discovery Platform harnessing data from the human challenge model to potentially discover new vaccines which the Directors believe could generate significant shareholder value
  • PredictViral™ Biomarker platform for predicting severe disease – potential to transform the way infectious diseases are treated
  • Licensed access to one of the largest infectious disease progression data and bio banks i.e. Open Orphan’s data and biobank, with the potential to interrogate the data with an AI data analysis platform (advanced discussions underway) to accelerate the identification of drug targets / products
  • Pipeline of further assets for acquisition post-IPO


Infectious Disease Market

  • Market expected to exceed $250bn by 2025
  • Cumulative costs of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of lost output & health reduction is equivalent to 90% of US GDP ($16tn)
  • Significant recent M&A and licensing activity in the infectious disease space


Capital light business model

  • Enables the Company to develop assets to Phase II quickly with relatively modest investment where they can potentially be monetised / licensed to big pharmaceutical companies
  • Platform for growth with a proven, streamlined method of identifying drugs to acquire / license, access to key data to drive that platform and well protected intellectual property
  • Faster and more cost-effective development model than traditional biotech’s giving potential for multiple value inflection points as each asset is advanced through the pipeline with a view to ultimate monetisation / licensing to big pharmaceutical companies
  • Intend to use contingent payments to fund asset acquisitions therefore minimising / eliminating potential equity dilution


Track Record

  • Strong heritage – initial assets from Open Orphan, a well-established, revenue generating business with over 20 years’ experience in infectious diseases and human challenge trials
  • Track record of delivery and creating value for shareholders – management team has completed three IPOs, built revenue generating businesses and achieved significant exits


Poolbeg IPO

  • Signal of quality to prospective partners and customers, raising the profile of the business
  • Provides a supportive platform on which to accelerate existing assets through development
  • Funds raised will allow the Company to acquire / license additional assets and technologies as appropriate
  • A portion of the Placing is expected to qualify for EIS and VCT related tax relief in addition to an expected retail offering via PrimaryBid
  • Cathal Friel, Non-Executive Chairman of Poolbeg has committed to participate in the IPO alongside incoming investors on the same terms


Jeremy Skillington, PhD, CEO of Poolbeg Pharma said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the issue of infectious diseases firmly in the public eye; Governments and international organisations are now investing heavily to ensure they are better prepared.

“Poolbeg Pharma is aiming to carve out a leading position in this rapidly evolving and expanding sector. We have an excellent heritage in infectious diseases and a management team with a track record of delivering value creation.

“Our capital light business model is an important differentiator. Through deep biological analysis of disease progression, we believe that it should enable us to reposition existing drug candidates and develop assets to Phase II stage quickly with relatively modest investment where they can then potentially be acquired / licensed to big pharmaceutical companies. We aim to be customer-led and will use our extensive network to become a ‘one stop shop’ for big pharma, developing the assets that they need.”


Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman of Open Orphan and Non-Executive Chairman of Poolbeg Pharma commented:

“Poolbeg Pharma is a great opportunity to maximise the potential of some of Open Orphan’s pharma assets which are non-core to our successful human challenge clinical trial business in a focused and capital efficient way.

“Poolbeg’s approach to asset development should result in good licensing opportunities and excellent returns in a relatively short period of time with substantially less risk than the traditional biotech model and allow for regular investor newsflow. In addition, in Poolbeg we have assembled a leading management team, generated an exciting pipeline of potential acquisitions and entered advanced discussions with leading AI data analysis platforms to increase the attractiveness of the Company and its offering. Thus, I am confident and excited in the Company’s prospects going forward and will be personally investing alongside incoming investors as part of the potential IPO.

“We are extremely proud that this is now the third life science IPO from the Raglan Capital stable after Amryt Pharma plc and Open Orphan plc, and we are excited to have Jeremy Skillington joining as CEO, bringing his valuable experience and  successful track record with Inflazome to the team.”

– Ends –


Open Orphan plc

Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman


+353 (0) 1 644 0007

Arden Partners PLC (Nominated Adviser & Joint Broker)

John Llewellyn-Lloyd, Richard Johnson, Oscair McGrath


+44 (0) 207 614 5900

finnCap Ltd (Joint Broker)

Geoff Nash, James Thompson, Charlie Beeson 


+44 (0) 20 7220 0500

Davy (Euronext Growth Adviser and Joint Broker)

Anthony Farrell


+353 (0) 1 679 6363

Walbrook PR (Financial PR & IR)

Paul McManus / Louis Ashe-Jepson / Sam Allen

+44 (0)20 7933 8780 or openorphan@walbrookpr.com

+44 (0)7980 541 893 / 07747 515 393 / 07502 558 258 

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