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The Boston Globe

Business

Flexion shares up 13.1% in 1st day

Flexion Therapeutics Inc., a Burlington company developing pain medications, Wednesday became the fourth Massachusetts biotechnology startup to go public so far in 2014, continuing the torrid pace of initial public offerings that has carried over from last year.

Shares of Flexion climbed $1.71 to $14.17, picking up 13.1 percent in their debut on the Nasdaq exchange. On Tuesday Flexion priced its shares at $13, raising $65 million in its stock offering.

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The company’s offering follows two IPOs by biotech companies in Cambridge last week. Eleven Biotherapeutics Inc. raised $50 million to develop protein drugs for eye diseases, and Genocea Biosciences Inc. raised $60 million to develop vaccines.

In the first and still largest Massachusetts biotech IPO of 2014, Dicerna Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Watertown, working in the hot field of RNA interference, raised $90 million on Jan. 29 and opened with a 207 percent gain in its first day of trading on the Nasdaq.

Nine biotechnology companies from Massachusetts went public last year, and many industry executives and investors have debated whether the IPO boomlet can continue into a new year marked by more turbulent conditions in the broader financial markets. The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average has retreated 3.7 percent since the start of 2014.

Seven-year-old Flexion is developing a pipeline of experimental treatments to treat mild, moderate, and severe pain. Its lead drug is a sustained-release steroid under development for patients with moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis.

A Flexion spokeswoman said executives could not comment on company plans, citing a quiet period imposed by regulators.

Underwriters for the IPO were BMO Capital Markets, Wells Fargo Securities, and Needham & Co. Flexion had previously raised $75 million in venture capital from an investment consortium that includes Versant Ventures, Sofinnova Partners, and drug giant Pfizer Inc.

Another local biotechnology firm, Concert Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Lexington, has disclosed plans to raise as much as $80 million in an IPO later this week, intending to use the money for drugs to treat diabetic kidney disease and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.

Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.

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