Nexvet opens manufacturing facility as it preps for dog and cat trials

Dog and cat
Nexvet is developing injectable drugs to treat pain in dogs and cats with osteoarthritis.

In September 2015, Dublin-based Nexvet ($NVET) scored a 10-year lease on a 20,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Ireland for €1.75 million ($1.98 million), thanks largely to government incentives and help from IDA Ireland. Now the facility is ready to open, just as Nexvet is gearing up for late-stage development of its two lead experimental drugs for pets--ranevetmab (NV-01) and NV-02, to treat osteoarthritis pain in dogs and cats respectively.

On June 3, Nexvet announced the opening of the manufacturing site, called BioNua Limited, which was previously used to produced human biotech drugs. Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Ireland’s minister for jobs, enterprise and innovation, presided over the opening, according to a press release from Nexvet.

Nexvet is preparing the facility to take over the production of NV-02, an injectable drug that works by inhibiting nerve growth factor (NGF). The announcement came on the heels of news that NV-02 performed well in a pilot trial with 126 cats. The new facility will supply the drug for Nexvet’s pivotal trial, which is set to begin in the second half of this year.

“We expect that our strategy to invest in and internalize manufacturing within Ireland will add significant value to Nexvet through improving process control, lowering our cost of goods, and enhancing security of clinical and commercial supply,” said Nexvet’s chief executive officer, Mark Heffernan, in the release.

On June 9, Nexvet will shed more light on both ranevetmab and NV-02 at a forum presented by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) in Denver. Nexvet announced in November that ranevetmab had met its primary safety and efficacy endpoints in a pivotal trial, but the company says it will provide an update of that data in Denver. Experts speaking on behalf of the company will also discuss the “underlying biology” of NGF, according to the release.

Nexvet will face plenty of rivals in the osteoarthritis market, not the least of which will be Aratana Therapeutics ($PETX), which won approval for its pain pill, Galliprant (grapiprant), in March. Some analysts have questioned whether an injectable drug for pets can compete with more convenient pills, but Heffernan isn’t worried. “Our market surveys have unequivocally demonstrated that a monthly subcutaneous injection for chronic pain indications in both dogs and cats is a very attractive concept and would be welcomed by veterinarians,” Heffernan said in a statement about the ACVIM forum.

Investors have been pleased with Nexvet’s progress over the past month. Shares of the company have risen 35% to nearly $4 since mid-May, when it announced that its third-quarter loss more than doubled year-over-year to $5.8 million.

- get more on the upcoming ACVIM forum here

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