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Opko Settles Lawsuit with Ophthalmic Imaging, Posts Lower Q1 Losses on Decreased Expenses


Opko Health said last week that it has settled a lawsuit with ophthalmic technology firm Ophthalmic Imaging Systems, which charged Opko with conspiring with a former employee to interfere with its business activities.

The case was set to go to trial at the end of April, but "in order to avoid the expense and uncertainty of litigation, and without making any admission of wrongdoing or liability … the parties agreed to fully and finally resolve the lawsuit," Opko said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Opko added that the "net impact of the settlement was not material."

Also in the SEC filing, Opko broke out its financial results for the first quarter, posting declines in both revenues and operating expenses.

The roughly two-year-old legal battle centered around OIS’ claims that its negotiations with a third ocular imaging-systems firm, Ophthalmic Technologies, about an undisclosed business arrangement broke down when OIS President Steven Verdooner left the company to join Opko as executive vice president of instrumentation. Opko went on to acquire OTI in 2007 (see RNAi News, 11/29/2007).

OIS had claimed, among other things, that Verdooner had been improperly meeting with Opko Chairman and CEO Phillip Frost about joining the company and disclosed confidential company information regarding OIS’ one-time plan to acquire OTI.

OIS amended its suit about a year later to include allegations that Opko and Frost conspired with Verdooner to interfere with OSI's business activities (see RNAi News, 5/22/2008).


In the first quarter, Opko's revenues fell to $2.3 million from $2.8 million a year earlier, which Opko said was the result of a drop in orders from international distributors for certain of the company's ophthalmic-imaging equipment.

Operating costs in the quarter declined to $9.3 million from $10.1 million, in part because of a drop in selling, general, and administrative costs to $3.3 million from $5.3 million.

Research and development costs, however, climbed to $5.7 million from $4.4 million in the year-ago quarter, reflecting costs associated with the phase III development of Opko's wet age-related macular degeneration therapy bevasiranib.

That drug, an siRNA targeting vascular endothelial growth factor, was shelved earlier this year due to poor preliminary clinical data (see RNAi News, 3/12/2009).

Opko said in the SEC filing that it expects to cease all activities related to a halted phase III study of bevasiranib in the first half of the third quarter.

Opko's net loss in the first quarter narrowed to $9 million, or $0.05 per share, from net loss of $10.9 million, or $0.06, in the same quarter last year.

As of March 31, Opko had cash and cash equivalents totaling $2.2 million. This money, in combination with the proceeds of a $20 million stock purchase agreement signed with one of Frost's investment vehicles, is expected to be sufficient to fund the company's operations for 12 months, Opko said.

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