Opko Buys into OAO Pharmsynthez

Miami, Fl.-based Opko Health (NYSE: OPK  ) took a 10% stake in Russian peer pharmaceutical firm OAO Pharmsynthez, Opko announced Thursday.

Like the name sounds, Pharmsynthez is a drugmaker and, in fact, the only life sciences company currently trading on the Moscow Stock Exchange. (The "OAO" simply refers to the Russian words for "joint stock company," the Russian designation for a public corporation). It manufactures and sells branded pharmaceutical products, primarily in Russia and the Baltics.

Opko described its stake-purchase as part of a $60 million, two-stage financing project, whereby Russian state-owned corporation Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies first invested $26.1 million in Pharmsynthez, followed by Opko's larger investment.

Going forward, Opko plans to partner with Pharmsynthez in the development and marketing of several of its own products for sale in Russia and other East European countries, specifically:

  • CTAP101 Capsules, a vitamin D prohormone to treat secondary hyperparathyroidism  in patients with stage 3 or 4 chronic kidney disease and vitamin D insufficiency
  • several diagnostic products utilizing OPKO's point of care platform
  • Opko's "4Kscore," panel of kallikrein biomarkers used in the detection of prostate cancer

The companies will also collaborate on R&D projects.

Investors appeared to view Thursday's announcement with some skepticism, however, bidding down Opko shares by precisely 1%, to close at $6.95.


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