RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — In the ebb and flow of business, the crew at Inspire Pharmaceuticals certainly knows what the highs and lows are like.

Back on a bit of a high, the road trips began for Inspire’s executives again this week. Chief Executive Officer Christy Shaffer and crew will be visiting various Street financiers to talk up Inspire’s public offering of 6 million new common shares, which the pharmaceutical firm announced before the markets opened Monday.

“We feel we have a compelling story to tell,” Mary Bennett, senior vice president of operations and communications, tells Local Tech Wire.

Inspire (Nasdaq: ISPH) set no target for the offering. After Wall Street knocked down the stock 46 cents in early trading, ISPH was actually up 17 cents over at $14.65 near the market close. The company has nearly 32 million shares, with more than 80 percent of those held by institutions.

Bennett says the Inspire team will brief interested parties on what she says are the positive movements the company is making. Once the road trips are over and the reactions have been evaluated, the price will be set.

Based on Monday’s price, Inspire could raise $90 million or more.

Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank Securities, SG Cowen & Co., and Piper Jaffray are handling the offering. They also have options on an additional 900,000 shares.

The offering comes at a time as Inspire prepares another push to get its dry-eye drug Diquafosol to market. A Phase III trial was launched in June after the Food and Drug Administration told Inspire last December that more tests were needed. Some 500 patients are to be tested at 36 sites.

Twists and turns

Shaffer was in New York last September to open the Nasdaq at a time when Inspire’s stock was headed up and the going looked good for Diquafosol. The FDA had just accepted Inspire’s new drug application. The stock peaked at $21.37 in November then nose-dived after the FDA letter on Dec. 22 and dropped steadily until hitting a 52-week low of $10.10 in March.

Inspire has reported progress on two other fronts since that FDA notice. The company said in April that results in a Phase II cystic fibrosis drug study were “positive”. Inspire announced six days before that a Phase II clinical trial for a retinal detachment treatment.

The company also had sales revenue to report in the first quarter – $600,000 from the drug Elestat. Inspire launched it in the U.S. for Allegran. The drug is for allergic conjunctivitis.

Public company nightmare —

Red Hat restated some income in an SEC filing on Monday after last week’s announcement that it was reviewing how some income was reported. There is some very interesting reading.

If you want to be part of the management team at a public company, you might want to read the following section of Red Hat’s statement filed today concerning the barrage of lawsuits that last week’s news triggered:

“In connection with our restatement of historical financial statements, class action lawsuits have been filed against us and additional lawsuits may be filed.

“Following the announcement of our intention to restate historical financial statements, as of July 18, 2004, at least 15 lawsuits claiming to be class actions were commenced or announced against us and certain of our current directors and officers, by or on behalf of persons claiming to be our shareholders and persons claiming to have purchased or otherwise acquired our securities at specified periods beginning as early as June 19, 2001 and continuing through July 13, 2004. Additional lawsuits may be filed against us. Regardless of the outcome of any of these actions, it is likely that we will incur substantial defense costs and that such actions will cause a diversion of our management’s time and attention. If we do not prevail in these cases we could be required to pay substantial damages or settlement costs, which could have a material adverse affect on our financial condition or results of operations. We are unable at this time to assess the validity of the claims or estimate the possible range of damages that might be incurred as a result of the lawsuits. We have not yet established any financial reserves relating to any of these lawsuits.”

Sir Tim, inventor of WWW

Tim Berners-Lee was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on Friday, the latest honor bestowed on the man who is acknowledged as the creator of the World Wide Web.

Sir Tim is now a knight commander in the Order of the British Empire.

But the ever-modest gentleman chose not to gloat. “Everyone in the Internet community should be recognized by this honor,” he said.