Within a week Nancy Lurker went from president and CEO of what had been known as an R&D company to the same title at a commercial specialty pharma company in the ophthalmology space, and she didn’t even have to change jobs.
Lurker, who just guided the metamorphosis of pSivida into EyePoint Pharmaceuticals thanks to the acquisition of a privately held pharma company with an approved product, talked to OIS Weekly about the transformative transaction and what we can expect to see from the re-formed organization going forward. That transformation also involves tranches and stock transactions that could bring up to $60.5 million in fresh capital into the new company.
Editor’s note: Nancy Lurker will present an update on EyePoint Pharmaceuticals Thursday afternoon at OIS@ASCRS during the Public Spotlight Session.
“We are now headed very soon toward being a fully integrated commercial specialty pharmaceutical company,” Lurker tells OIS Weekly in explaining the rebranding. “And we’re now poised to launch two commercial products, so we view ourselves very differently now.”
Icon Bioscience Acquisition
That different view came into clearer focus when what was then pSivida announced the acquisition of Icon Bioscience and its lead product, Dexycu (pronounced dex-ee-cue), a market-ready, dropless, 9% dexamethasone, intraocular suspension single-dose treatment for pain after cataract surgery. Dexycu received Food and Drug Administration approval in February. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Soon, EyePoint may have another candidate in its portfolio. Just before executing the Icon acquisition, the FDA accepted pSivida’s new drug application for the Duraset micro-insert for treatment of noninfectious posterior uveitis. The FDA issued a Prescription Drug User Fee Act action date of November 5, 2018. Potentially, EyePoint could launch both products in the US in the first half of next year depending on the commercial scale-up and FDA decision.
Lurker explains the rationale behind the Icon acquisition. “It’s very difficult to effectively grow a company, particularly when you’re public, with just one asset that’s commercial,” she says. “It’s very important that you have more than one asset to effectively leverage the usually quite expensive infrastructure that you have to build out for commercialization. So that was goal number one – that I believed quite strongly we needed to get another asset.”
The search for the right asset took a year. “We felt that this was a very good fit with the company,” Lurker states of Icon. “It remains in the ocular space. Yes, it’s front of the eye, not back of the eye, but it gives us actually now more potential to look at additional acquisitions.” In addition, Dexycu is an approved product. “Those are hard to find,” Lurker notes. “I did not want to take regulatory risk if we could avoid it.”
It worked out well for Icon, too, which Lurker describes as being “basically a virtual company” with three employees at the time of the acquisition.
Funding the Next Steps
The new financial agreement with EW Healthcare Partners will enable EyePoint to pursue its vision, particularly in looking at more acquisitions, says Lurker. EW and a third-party investor will provide funding in two tranches totaling $35 million, approximately $25.5 million of which is subject to the approval of the company’s stockholders. EW and the third-party investor also have an option, subject to shareholder approval, to invest an additional $25.5 million for a total of up to $60.5 million.
In the first tranche, which closed concurrently with the Icon acquisition, EW purchased 8.6 million shares of pSivida common stock. In the second tranche, which is subject to shareholder approval, EW and the third-party investor will purchase approximately $25.5 million of the company’s common stock and receive a warrant to purchase an additional approximately $25.5 million of stock. The warrant will be a cash-exercise only milestone payment when Dexycu obtains a pass-through reimbursement code. To close the EW loop, Ron Eastman, a managing director with EW, immediately joined EyePoint’s board.
As the Icon transaction closed, pSivida also entered into a $20 million senior secured, non-dilutive term loan agreement with SWK Funding LLC, a subsidiary of SWK Holdings, and its partners.
Lurker also explains the reasoning for the name change. “pSivida was a very difficult name for people to pronounce and remember,” she says. “It was not phonetic, and remember, I’m a commercial person. One of the things you learn is branding 101: Make sure that people can easily remember and spell your name. So that was a big issue for us.”
Which leads to the moniker EyePoint. “Eye – obviously we’re in the ocular space so we wanted to have something that represented the eye. And then we believe that the company’s now on Point to really accelerate its growth,” Lurker explains.
And she doesn’t even have to change jobs to run it.
For questions about this article, please contact Richard Mark Kirkner at email@example.com.