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Tampa biotech startup raises $6 million

Margie Manning

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Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

A German pharmaceutical company has partnered with Barry Butler, a veteran of the ophthalmic industry, to create Betaliq Inc., a Tampa biotechnology company focused on developing treatments for glaucoma.

Betaliq raised $6 million in an equity offering in the past month, a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said. The funding round is still open and additional investors are coming in, said Butler, who is Betaliq CEO.

Betaliq plans to use the capital to fund the company and to conduct Phase 2 trials of two drug candidates.

Butler previously was president and CEO of Sirion Therapeutics, a Tampa-based biopharma firm that sold in 2010. He next launched Point Guard Partners LLC to provide consultation and development services for the ophthalmic industry. After Point Guard wound down last year, Butler and others from Point Guard formed BLP Management Group in Tarpon Springs.

BLP partnered with Novaliq GmbH, a pharmaceutical company in Heidelberg, Germany, to form Betaliq.

Novaliq has patented technology, called EyeSol, that is used to make eye drops without water. Novaliq is focused on the treatment of dry eye disease, while Betaliq plans to use the same technology to address glaucoma, the leading cause of irreversible blindness. More than 70 million people worldwide are currently affected by the condition, including 3.7 million people in the United States, with more people expected to be diagnosed as the population ages.

The EyeSol technology offers several advantages over water-based solutions, Butler said.

It uses smaller drops, which stay on the eye longer and allows the eye to absorb more. It also doesn’t require preservatives, which cause the stinging and burning often associated with eye drops.

Betaliq has two drug candidates that use the EyeSol technology in combination with beta blockers, the most commonly prescribed class of medicine to treat glaucoma, a news release said. One of the candidates, BTQ 1901, uses a beta blocker not previously used to treat glaucoma, while the other candidate, BTQ 1902, uses the most commonly prescribed beta blocker.

Betaliq tapped Brookline Capital Markets in New York to raise funds. Brookline primarily works with family offices and high-net worth individual investors, so most of Betaliq’s financial backers are individual wealthy families, who tend to be more patient about returns than venture capital firms, Butler said.

That’s a good match for Betaliq, which eventually would strike a deal with a midsized pharmaceutical company to commercialize its products.

Pharmaceutical companies mostly do deals which involve earn-outs, or future revenue that depends on meeting specified financial goals.

“Family offices are more in line with what I want to do, to create a longer-term wealth stream, and it’s a better match with what’s going on in the pharma industry,” Butler said.

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