The question in every one’s mind since Oct. 19, 1987, had been: ‘When would the market support an initial public offering in biotech— as it used to so enthusiastically before Black Monday? In the first nine months of 1987, for instance there had been no less than 16 initial public offerings of biotech firms that had raised a total of $263 million. But as the months dragged by into 1988, not a single offering had been acieved.

Then along came NeoRx. The four-year-old Seattle company had jockeyed fo r months to make the offering —and so had been a major focus of the biotech world since the stock mar ket crash, as other companies trusted that a successful debut would open the door for their own maneuverings.

It had been a classic story of a meteoric rise to corporate stardom. Soon after receiving seed funding in 1984 the young firm...

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