California biotech IPOs burgeoning, thanks in part to federal law

'There's less money spent on unnecessary requirements,' said OncoMed Chief Executive Paul Hastings

The number of biotech companies in California and across the nation raising money by going public is burgeoning.

A big contributor to the growth was a 2012 change in federal laws regulating initial public offerings of stock, known as IPOs on Wall Street.

Eighty biotech companies have gone public since passage of the Jumpstart Our Business Startup Act, or JOBS Act, reported the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a trade group at a convention this week in San Diego.

Just 32 biotech firms went public nationwide during the two years before passage of the JOBS Act.

Since passage of the act, California has led the country in the number of biotech firms with IPOs, 23.

The California biotech IPOs included companies working on new metabolic and cancer-fighting drugs as well as those dealing with infectious diseases, hematology and dermatology.

One of those companies, OncoMed in Redwood City, is developing five drugs aimed at attacking  cancer stem cells and preventing them from replicating, said Chief Executive Paul Hastings. OncoMed held its IPO last July and raised $92 million for the 98-person operation.

The JOBS Act, said Hastings, "makes it easier for emerging companies  to go public" by reducing paperwork.

"There's less money spent on unnecessary requirements," he said, "and more focus on running the business."

Twitter: @MarcLifsher

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