National Editor

Just over two months after disclosing its plan to phase out its single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping instruments and the related consumables in its life sciences unit, Orchid BioSciences Inc. has found a buyer in Beckman Coulter Inc.

No one could be reached Monday from either company. The news was disclosed after market hours Friday, and Orchid's stock (NASDAQ:ORCH) closed Monday at 56 cents, up 8 cents, or 16.7 percent.

Under the terms of the agreement, Orchid gets undisclosed cash payments and certain debt assumption, with Beckman Coulter, of Fullerton, Calif., also assuming certain obligations to third parties related to Orchid's reagents and instrument leases. Other details were not disclosed.

Beckman Coulter, which is focused on automated biomedical testing, now has rights to all SNP genotyping instrumentation, reagents and software formerly marketed by Orchid, along with an exclusive license to use Orchid's SNP-IT analysis technology in products sold to the research and specialty testing markets, plus a nonexclusive license to use SNP-IT in-house for diagnostics.

Princeton, N.J.-based Orchid also retains rights to use SNP-IT technology in the diagnostics market, as well as in all of its genoprofiling service businesses, including identity testing for forensics and paternity and pharmacogenetic testing for personalized medicine, and said it will continue to provide SNP genotyping services to pharmaceutical and agricultural customers.

Its portfolio of SNP technology patents remains Orchid's own, as well as its existing Platform Propagation SNP technology license deals.

In October, when it disclosed its plan to offload SNP instruments, Orchid said top-line revenues for 2002 were still projected at about $65 million, and the company was optimistic about achieving profitability in the fourth quarter of next year. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 15, 2002.)