Opko Health agrees to buy gene-sequencing company for $1.47 billion

Phillip Frost is chairman and CEO of Opko Health.
Phillip Frost is chairman and CEO of Opko Health.

In a stock deal valued at $1.47 billion, Miami-based Opko Health agreed to acquire gene-sequencing diagnostics company Bio-Reference Laboratories.

Opko, a pharmaceutical and diagnostics company founded serial health entrepreneur Dr. Phillip Frost, is offering 2.75 of its shares for each one of Bio-Reference Labs, valuing the target’s common stock at $52.58 a share and representing a premium of about 60 percent to Wednesday’s closing price in New York.

The deal gives Opko access to Bio-Reference Labs’ genetics and genomics data, just as many companies are moving into personalized drug development, and the company says it intends to make the data available to academics and industry experts. Opko can also use Bio-Reference Labs’ laboratory services and its sales and distribution channels to boost sales of its 4Kscore test, a blood test that provides a patient's specific personalized risk score for aggressive prostate cancer, as well as other Opko diagnostic products under development.

“I have long admired Bio-Reference Laboratories which, for almost 30 years, has enjoyed an impressive record of organic growth through constant innovation and clinical awareness,” said Frost, chairman and CEO of Opko.

Opko shares, which were up more than 90 percent this year, fell 15 percent to $16.25 at the close in New York. Elmwood Park, N.J.-based Bio-Reference Labs jumped 20 percent to $39.60.

The deal is expected to close in the second half of the year.