OvaScience develops fertility treatments using egg precursor cells to improve egg health and in vitro fertilization (IVF). Unfortunately, the complaint for this class action alleges that Ova’s statements about its Augment treatment didn’t just violate the Securities Exchange Act of 1934; it says they were also fraudulent.
The class for this action is all persons or entities who acquired the publicly traded common stock of OvaScience between December 17, 2014 and September 28, 2015.
In 2013, Ova launched a study of Augment with forty women who had previously failed at IVF. However, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inquired into the company for failing to file a new drug application, Ova dropped its testing efforts in the US.
Instead, the complaint says that Ova partnered with IVF clinics in other countries, offering Augment cycles of treatment for free. It hoped to prove its efficacy and safety, the complaint said, after which it intended to convert the clinics to commercial Augment treatment facilities.
In December 2014, Ova announced they had begun 150 cycles of free Augment treatments at the clinics. No results were presented, but the company said it expected to have 1,000 paid cycles in progress by the end of the following year, costing $15,000-$25,000, with an additional charge for the clinics.
Analysts claimed that the statements suggested “physician confidence in initial efficacy data” and made the treatment’s launch less risky. Ova’s stock price rose by 62%, and it held a secondary public offering, raising over $132 million. When it filed its Form 10-K 2014 annual report, it confirmed the 1,000 cycle target for 2015.
In March 2015, Ova made available results of Augment treatments from two clinics, in Canada and Turkey. It claimed a success rate of 53% at the Canadian clinic, the complaint says, but it turned out that treatment of twenty-six women had resulted in just seven ongoing pregnancies. Also, the complaint alleges that the studies together had only thirty-four patients, a small portion of the treatments given away, and that the patients were younger than initially planned. Ova’s stock price fell by over 23%.
Closer examination of the data implied that the results might be lower than typically achieved with IVF, considering the age group. Without controls, the complaint says, it was also questionable whether the company could sell such an expensive treatment.
Ova still claimed it was on track to meet its 1,000-cycle target. But in late September, the company admitted that it had initiated only roughly thirty-five such cycles.
At this news, the stock fell by nearly 41%. In June 2017, Ova announced that it was laying off 50% of its workforce, and it abandoned Augment. According to the complaint, at the timing of its filing, the company’s stock was trading at just $1.47 per share, a 97% loss from its record high of $55.69.