TORONTO, April 5, 2006 -- Healthcare company OccuLogix Inc. of Toronto announced yesterday it will acquire glaucoma treatment developer Solx Inc., a privately held company founded at the Boston University Photonics Center in 2001, as part of its new plan to focus on technologies that treat age-related eye diseases.
Specific financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but OccuLogix said in a statement it will provide Solx with a $2 million bridge loan and it expects to pay "a substantial portion" of the purchase price in OccuLogix stock.
OccuLogix announced the Solx acquisition in the same statement announcing anticipated delays in getting US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its Rheo system to treat the dry form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) due to insufficient data in its clinical trials.
AMD causes damage to the macula, the light-sensitive cells at the center of the retina at the back of the eye, and effects not only the ability to see details but to perceive colors as well. Dry AMD is the most common form of the disease, representing about 90 percent of AMD cases, and afflicts approximately 13 million people in the US, OccuLogix said. There is currently no FDA-approved treatment.
"In light of the possible delay in the US commercial launch of its Rheo system, the company has accelerated its diversification plans, focusing on age-related eye diseases like AMD and glaucoma as they are expected to be the fastest-growing segments of eye care over the next 10 years," the OccuLogix statement said.
Glaucoma causes optic nerve damage that eventually leads to blindness through elevated pressure inside the eye. Approximately 67 million people are affected worldwide, with 2.2 million of them in the US, OccuLogix said. Solx's DeepLight glaucoma treatment system uses a titanium sapphire laser and gold microshunt which can be used separately or together, and both components have been approved for use in Europe, OccuLogix said, with US approval expected before the end of 2007.
Solx was created under the business accelerator program at the BU Photonics Center in Boston. According to the center's website, since 1998 it has started or accelerated 18 photonics companies that have brought in a total of $225 million in outside venture capital, $12 million of which was raised by Solx.
OccuLogix also announced some management changes in connection with its diversification plan. Nozhat Choudry is OccuLogix's new vice president, clinical research. She joined OccuLogix from Boehringer Ingelheim, where she worked for the past nine years, most recently as director of the national medicine department. Choudry replaces Irving Siegel, OccuLogix's vice president, clinical affairs, who is leaving the company.
Steve Westing has been named OccuLogix's vice president, medical and scientific development, effective April 10. Westing comes to OccuLogix from Genentech Inc., where he most recently served as associate director, advisory and thought leader services. William G. Dumencu is the company's interim CFO and treasurer, effective April 10. Dumencu has served as OccuLogix's vice president of finance since June 2005 and was previously CFO and treasurer. Dumencu succeeds John Y. Caloz, who is leaving the company.
For more information, visit: www.occulogix.com