Ocuphire Pharma Reports Inducement Grant Under Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635(c)(4)
FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich., Nov. 01, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ocuphire Pharma, Inc. (Nasdaq: OCUP), a clinical-stage ophthalmic biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing small-molecule therapies for the treatment of retinal and refractive eye disorders, today announced that the independent members of its Board of Directors approved equity awards under Ocuphire’s 2021 Inducement Plan, as a material inducement to George Magrath, M.D., M.B.A., M.S., the Company’s newly appointed Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board, in connection with his employment with the Company effective on November 1, 2023. The equity awards were approved in accordance with Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635(c)(4), which also requires a public announcement of equity awards that are not made under a stockholder approved equity plan.
In connection with his entering into employment with Ocuphire, Dr. Magrath, who was not previously an employee or director of Ocuphire, received an option to purchase 600,000 shares of the Company’s common stock and 400,000 restricted stock units (“RSUs”). The option award has an exercise price of $2.87 per share, the closing price of Ocuphire’s common stock on November 1, 2023. The option vests over a period of four years, with 25% vesting one year after the date of grant and the remaining 75% vesting in 36 approximately equal monthly increments, and the RSUs vest in four equal consecutive annual installments of 25% beginning on the first anniversary of the grant date, provided in each case that the new hire’s employment is continuing on each such date, and subject to acceleration or forfeiture upon the occurrence of certain events as set forth in the new hire’s award agreements.
About Ocuphire Pharma
Ocuphire Pharma, Inc. is a clinical-stage ophthalmic biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing small-molecule therapies for the treatment of retinal and refractive eye disorders.
Ocuphire’s lead retinal product candidate, APX3330, is a first-in-class small-molecule inhibitor of Ref-1 (reduction oxidation effector factor-1 protein). Ref-1 is a regulator of transcription factors such as HIF-1a and NF-kB. Inhibiting REF-1 reduces levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (“VEGF”) and inflammatory cytokines which are known to play key roles in ocular angiogenesis and inflammation. Through inhibition of Ref-1, APX3330 normalizes the levels of VEGF to physiologic levels, unlike biologics that deplete VEGF below the levels required for normal function. APX3330 is an oral tablet to be administered twice per day for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy (“DR”) and diabetic macular edema (“DME”). A phase 2 study in subjects with DR or DME has recently been completed, and an End-of-Phase 2 meeting is confirmed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) in Q4 2023.
DR affects approximately 10 million people with diabetes and is projected to impact over 14 million Americans by 2050. DR is classified as Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (“NPDR”), the early stage of the disease in which symptoms may be mild or nonexistent or Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (“PDR”) which is the more advanced stage of diabetic eye disease that can be highly symptomatic with loss of vision. Approximately 80% of DR patients have NPDR that will progress to PDR if left untreated. Despite the risk for visual loss associated with this disease, over 90% of NPDR patients currently receive no course of treatment apart from observation by their eye care specialist until they develop sight-threatening complications. This is due to the treatment burden of the frequent eye injections required with currently approved therapies for this disease. APX3330 as an oral tablet has the potential to be an early, non-invasive treatment for the 8 million NPDR patients in the US. Treatment with APX3330 is expected to delay or prevent progression of NPDR, thereby reducing the need for expensive intravitreal injections with anti-VEGF therapies and reducing the likelihood of vision loss due to DR.
Ocuphire has also in-licensed APX2009 and APX2014, which are second-generation analogs of APX3330. The unique dual mechanism of action of these Ref-1 inhibitors of reducing angiogenesis and inflammation could potentially be beneficial in treating other retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, and geographic atrophy. Ocuphire is currently evaluating local delivery routes in addition to the systemic (oral) route as part of its pipeline expansion in retinal therapies.
Ocuphire has a partnership with Viatris, Inc. to develop and commercialize Phentolamine Ophthalmic Solution 0.75% (“POS”). POS is a non-selective alpha-1 and alpha-2 adrenergic antagonist designed to reduce pupil size by uniquely blocking the alpha-1 receptors found on the iris dilator muscle without affecting the ciliary muscle. In September 2023, the FDA approved POS under the name RYZUMVI™ (phentolamine ophthalmic solution) 0.75% to treat pharmacologically-induced mydriasis produced by adrenergic agonists (e.g., phenylephrine) or parasympatholytic agents (e.g., tropicamide). POS is also in Phase 3 clinical development for the treatment of presbyopia and dim light (night) vision disturbances.
For more information, visit www.ocuphire.com.
Forward Looking Statements
Statements contained in this press release regarding matters that are not historical facts are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning the End-of-Phase 2 meeting with the FDA to confirm Phase 3 registration endpoints and study parameters. These forward-looking statements are based upon Ocuphire’s current expectations and involve assumptions that may never materialize or may prove to be incorrect. Actual results and the timing of events could differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking statements as a result of various risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation: (i) the success and timing of regulatory submissions and pre-clinical and clinical trials, including enrollment and data readouts; (ii) regulatory requirements or developments; (iii) changes to clinical trial designs and regulatory pathways; (iv) changes in capital resource requirements; (v) risks related to the inability of Ocuphire to obtain sufficient additional capital to continue to advance its product candidates and its preclinical programs; (vi) legislative, regulatory, political and economic developments, (vii) changes in market opportunities, (viii) the effects of COVID-19 on clinical programs and business operations, (ix) risks that the phentolamine ophthalmic solution partnership may not facilitate the commercialization or market acceptance of Ocuphire’s product candidates; (x) the success and timing of commercialization of any of Ocuphire’s product candidates and (xi) the maintenance of Ocuphire’s intellectual property rights. The foregoing review of important factors that could cause actual events to differ from expectations should not be construed as exhaustive and should be read in conjunction with statements that are included herein and elsewhere, including the risk factors detailed in documents that have been and may be filed by Ocuphire from time to time with the SEC. All forward-looking statements contained in this press release speak only as of the date on which they were made. Ocuphire undertakes no obligation to update such statements to reflect events that occur or circumstances that exist after the date on which they were made.
|George Magrath, M.D., M.B.A., M.S.
|Corey Davis, Ph.D.
Released November 1, 2023