QLT signs eye delivery tech option deal with former CEO

QLT ($QLTI) has signed an exclusive option agreement with Mati Therapeutics for its punctal plug delivery system, which delivers drugs to the surface of the eye through the tear film.

Mati, which has links with Robert Butchofsky, QLT's former president and CEO, has paid $500,000 for a 90-day option to acquire assets, and the option can be extended for up to three successive 30-day periods for $100,000 a shot. If Mati exercises the option, QLT will get a closing payment of $750,000, milestone payments and low single-digit royalties on net sales of products using the technology.

According to Jason M. Aryeh, chair of QLT's board of directors, the company's efforts to recapture some of the almost $140 million spent on the delivery system have not been successful. "Hopefully, Mr. Butchofsky's extensive experience with and passion for the punctal plug delivery system put him in the best position to realize potential future value from this program, if acquired, and therefore recapture some tangible value from QLT's ongoing financial interest in the technology," Aryeh said.

In March, the company was one of Fierce's 5 Drug Delivery Companies to Watch in 2012, but things have changed quite radically since then. Butchofsky left in the summer after a major restructuring triggered by a board takeover by a group of activist investors, and QLT announced a 42% reduction of its workforce in December, to take effect in the first half of 2013. Other outcomes of the restructuring included the punctal delivery system option deal with Mati and a $62.5 million sale of the U.S. rights to its treatment for age-related vision loss, Visudyne, to Valeant Pharmaceuticals ($VRX). QLT's focus is now its synthetic oral retinoid program, QLT091001.

- read the press release