Sector News

Ophthotech plots deal spree to bounce back from trial flop

February 1, 2017
Life sciences

Ophthotech has started a search for ophthalmic drugs, pipeline prospects and technologies it can rebuild its business around. Management kicked off the hunt after a phase 3 failure blew a hole in Ophthotech’s hopes of bringing its wet AMD asset to market.

Until December, Ophthotech was focused on getting its wet AMD candidate Fovista through a pair of phase 3 trials and onto the market as a way to improve on the efficacy of Novartis’ Lucentis. The publication of data showing the addition of Fovista to Lucentis failed to improve visual acuity over the Novartis drug as a monotherapy dented that prospect, prompting Ophthotech’s board to enlist Leerink Partners to help it weigh up strategic alternatives.

As it stands, while all options are up for discussion, Ophthotech is more interested in being a buyer than a seller. The plan is to look to land the rights “to additional products, product candidates and technologies to treat ophthalmic diseases, particularly those of the back of the eye.” By pairing such assets with its existing expertise in ophthalmic diseases, Ophthotech thinks it can secure itself and its shareholders a potentially-lucrative future despite the travails of Fovista.

“We believe that with our expertise and experience in ophthalmology we are well positioned to explore and critically evaluate a variety of opportunities that could include in-licensing, acquisition and collaboration opportunities,” Ophthotech CEO David Guyer said in a statement.

Ophthotech has cash to realize the plan—it was sat on $321 million at the end of September—and has rejigged its team to enact the strategy. Glenn Sblendorio is no longer covering both the CFO and COO roles. Instead, Sblendorio will serve as CFO and president, leaving SVP Keith Westby to step up to the COO position. Guyer talked up Sblendorio’s business development experience in his explanation of the reshuffle.

The team will hunt for deals while overseeing the completion of a phase 3 trial that is administering Fovista or a placebo on top of either Regeneron’s Eylea or Roche’s Avastin. That trial is due to post data in the middle of the year. If that study joins the Lucentis trial in the flop column, Ophthotech will be left with a phase 2/3 geographic atrophy candidate and whatever its business development team can rustle up.

By Nick Paul Taylor

Source: Fierce Biotech

comments closed

Related News

May 21, 2022

As monkeypox cases emerge in US and Europe, Bavarian Nordic inks vaccine order

Life sciences

A monkeypox outbreak is emerging in the U.S. and Europe, and at least one country is amping up countermeasure preparedness. Bavarian Nordic has secured a contract with an unnamed European country to supply its smallpox vaccine, called Imvanex in Europe, in response to the emergence of monkeypox cases, the Danish company said Thursday.

May 21, 2022

Moderna chairman Afeyan defends hiring practices after CFO debacle: report

Life sciences

Moderna’s recent chief financial officer debacle—in which Jorge Gomez departed on his second day on the job—raised questions about the company’s hiring process given its rush to global biopharma prominence. The most obvious one: How was it possible for Gomez to be hired when he was under investigation by his previous employer, Dentsply Sirona of Charlotte, N.C.

May 21, 2022

Merck to pay up to $1.4B in cancer deal with Kelun, but details are scarce

Life sciences

Merck & Co. is plucking a cancer project from the branch of Chinese-based Kelun Pharmaceutical for up to $1.4 billion, but details from the New Jersey-based Big Pharma have been hard to come by. The deal, first disclosed Monday on the Shenzhen stock exchange, has Merck handing over $47 million in upfront cash in exchange for ex-China rights to a “macromolecular tumor project.”