A Medical Device Daily

Pentax Medical (Montvale, New Jersey), a division of Pentax of America (both Montvale, New Jersey), a wholly owned subsidiary of Pentax of Japan (Tokyo), reported acquiring all operating assets of Kay Elemetrics (Lincoln Park, New Jersey). Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Kay's operations will be continued as a division of Pentax Medical under the name KayPentax.

David Woods, president of Pentax Medical, said, "Kay is the global leader in speech, voice and swallowing instrumentation, with a dominant market share in the United States and abroad, and distribution in more than 40 countries around the world." He said that the acquisition "supports our strategy of increasing our Life Care business through careful investment in world-class medical technologies."

He added: "We are excited about the synergies bringing Kay into the Pentax family represents, in particular Kay's strength in digital strobe laryngeal imaging. We expect to be able to capitalize on these synergies in both the short and long term, resulting in a positive impact on our bottom line."

"Joining forces with Pentax will enable our organization to improve our reach, and effectively penetrate new markets by introducing our technologies to new applications. We have partnered successfully in the past with Pentax and believe our product lines and corporate cultures complement one another," said John Crump, president of Kay Elemetrics. He said that the two companies "share an intense commitment to research and development, and providing superior service and support to our customers. We plan to continue to lead the market and help our customers give their patients the highest level of care, supported by the latest technologies."

Crump will assume the position of general manager of KayPentax.

Pentax Medical describes its mission as developing technologies "that positively impact patient outcomes."

Pentax specializes in video and fiber endoscopy equipment and computer technology and imaging products for diagnostic, therapeutic, and research applications in the GI, ENT, and Pulmonology fields. The company's primary market encompasses hospitals, physician practices and ambulatory surgery centers.

In addition, Pentax's ACTive Solutions Network provides single-source access to vendors who specialize in developing software technologies and integrated systems that improve the efficiency of GI labs and ASCs.

Kay Electric, incorporated in 1970 under its current name, originally designed electronic measurement instruments used in industrial, university research and military applications. It says it now specializes in speech, voice and swallowing analysis instrumentation used internationally by speech language pathologists, otolaryngologists, voice scientists and linguists. These products include acoustic, electroglottographic, aerodynamic, videostroboscopic and swallowing instrumentation.

In other deal activity:

• Sonus Pharmaceuticals (Bothell, Washington) last week backed away from its planned $30 million merger with the French drug company Synt:em (Nimes, France), citing its costs in manpower and money being too high. The deal was first disclosed late last year.

Michael Martino, president and CEO of Sonus, said during a conference call that "despite the best efforts of the parties" involved, they would not be able to complete the deal by a stipulated March 31 deadline. He cited the time required for questions from the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding the proxy statement, as well as for scheduling a special shareholder meeting to approve the deal.

Sonus said it has decided instead to focus on lead candidate Tocosol Paclitaxel, an improved version of the well-known chemotherapy drug using vitamin E-based oil-in-water emulsion for delivery, which is nearing Phase III trials.

Those trials are expected to enroll about 700 patients, Martino said, which is "at the upper end of our previous guidance of between 400 and 800 patients," but is necessary to provide the statistical rigor and power that would make Sonus' compound a taxane sufficiently differentiated in the marketplace.

Sonus' shares on the Nasdaq dipped about 9% after the decision was made public. Last Thursday, the stock closed at $3.19, down 16 cents.

Under the terms of the agreement with Synt:em, Sonus would have paid $10 million in stock up front, and $20 million more as development milestone payments. But both sides had the option of turning away before March 31.

Another option for Sonus would have been to extend the deadline to April 30 by making a EUR 500,000 ($668,862) loan to Synt:em, but company officials decided the best tactic was to call off the deal entirely.