The Aroostook County woman whose company launched a non-hormonal, use-when-you-need-it form of birth control in 2020 will speak at Husson University’s graduation as she tries to keep her business from being kicked off the Nasdaq stock exchange because of its sinking share price.
Saundra Pelletier, who graduated from Husson and is a former member of the board of trustees, will speak and receive an honorary degree at Husson’s commencement ceremony at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on May 7.
Pelletier, who grew up in Caribou, is the chief executive officer of Evofem Biosciences Inc., a San Diego pharmaceutical company that specializes in women’s reproductive health.
Evofem produces Phexxi, a contraceptive gel women can use up to an hour before having sex. The gel lowers vaginal pH levels to acidic levels, making it inhospitable to sperm and lowering the likelihood of getting pregnant. The gel is non-hormonal, a relief for people who suffer adverse side effects like headaches, weight gain and elevated blood pressure from hormonal birth control.
“I knew this product could be a game changer,” Pelletier told the Bangor Daily News last June.
At the same time, Evofem has suffered financial setbacks that could threaten its future as a publicly traded company.
Its share price has declined by almost 97 percent since May 2020, leading Nasdaq to warn the company in August 2021 that it was in danger of being delisted from the stock exchange because Evofem’s price had fallen below the minimum $1-per-share requirement for public trading.
Delisting a company from a stock exchange often leads that company’s stock value to decline further. Shareholders retain control of their shares, but may find it more difficult to sell them.
Evofem’s stock price was $5.79 a share on May 26, 2020, four days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Phexxi. Its shares were valued at 19 cents Monday afternoon.
Nasdaq accepted Evofem’s plan to regain compliance with the exchange’s $1-a-share requirement earlier this month, and agreed to defer the potential delisting until May 20, after the company holds its annual shareholder meeting, Evofem spokesperson Jack Hirschfield said.
Husson University spokesperson Eric Gordon called Pelletier “quite accomplished.”
“Here at Husson University, we look at the totality of a person’s accomplishments as part of our honorary degree selection process,” he said. Pelletier “is a proud graduate of Husson University, and we take pride in her many achievements.”
Shareholders will vote at Evofem’s May 4 meeting whether to allow the company to reduce its number of shares, in hopes of boosting their value and allowing the firm to raise more money from other sources.
Evofem sold 40,000 boxes of Phexxi in the last quarter of 2021, a record high, and reduced the amount of cash reserves it spent per quarter by $16.8 million, according to company SEC filings.
The FDA is also considering Phexxi as a preventive treatment against chlamydia and gonorrhea, which could boost the company’s sales, Pelletier said.
She also expected sales to increase after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance in January requiring insurance companies to offer women expanded access to FDA-approved contraceptives like Phexxi.
“2022 is our year,” Pelletier said in a letter to shareholders.