The merged entity, Opko, has an initial focus on drugs for ophthalmic disorders.
Acuity Pharmaceuticals, Froptix, and eXegenics will merge to form Opko. The new biopharmaceutical company plans to list its shares on the American Stock Exchange. Opko will be headquartered in Miami. It will be backed by $12 million from The Frost Group, a private equity group headed by Phillip Frost, M.D., who will become chairman and CEO of Opko.
Acuity’s and Froptix’ pipeline of drugs to treat ophthalmic disorders will pad the new entity’s portfolio. Opko also intends to develop selected diagnostic products to complement these therapies.
Acuity’s product portfolio includes the gene-silencing agent bevasiranib, which completed Phase II trials for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular edema and a Phase I conjunctivitis product. Froptix licensed exclusive rights to technology developed at the University of Florida in Gainesville relating to small molecule therapeutics for retinal and macular degeneration. It has lead compounds for the treatment of dry AMD and retinitis pigmentosa. eXegenics does not currently have active operations but was engaged in the research and development of drugs related to cancer and infectious diseases.
“The combined product pipelines,” adds Dr. Frost, “contain a variety of other promising compounds for other inflammatory, infectious, and degenerative diseases of the eye.”
The companies believe that along with the line of credit from The Frost Group, eXegenics’ $16 million in cash will be sufficient to fund the upcoming Phase III trial of bevasiranib as maintenance therapy for wet AMD in combination with Lucentis and to support continued progress in other programs.