Oasmia repositions chemo drug for dogs in bid to grab larger market

Sweden's Oasmia Pharmaceutical ($OASM) had high hopes for its canine cancer drug, Paccal Vet-CA1, when it snatched the product back from Zoetis ($ZTS) last summer. The product, a version of the chemo drug paclitaxel that's specially formulated for dogs, has a conditional approval from the FDA but had been put on the back burner by Zoetis, which was in the midst of downsizing its product portfolio. Oasmia planned to raise $23 million in an initial public offering to support the further development of Paccal Vet-CA1, another veterinary drug it regained from Zoetis called Doxophos Vet, and a suite of drugs for people.

But Oasmia seems to be having a tough time cracking the veterinary market. Paccal Vet was initially approved on a conditional basis to treat mammary cancer and squamous cell carcinoma in dogs. On Feb. 24, the company announced that it is now trying to transform Paccal Vet into a drug that will hold some appeal beyond just a select group of veterinary oncologists. To achieve that, Oasmia is introducing a smaller dose, with less severe side effects, the company said in a press release.

Oasmia is also evaluating a Phase III study of Paccal Vet in dogs with mast cell tumors. The results of that review "will most likely play a factor on how the indication will be utilized moving forward," the company said in the release.

As for Doxophos Vet, which Oasmia has been developing to treat lymphoma in dogs, the company has filed for approval in Russia and is planning a Phase I study in other countries, according to the release. But first Oasmia has to await safety data from an ongoing dog trial, to ensure the drug isn't causing heart problems. Doxophos is a specially formulated version of the chemo drug doxorubicin, which is known to cause cardiovascular side effects in people.

Oasmia is repositioning its veterinary portfolio with considerably less resources than the company had hoped it would have. By the time Oasmia went public in October, it had significantly downsized the offering, raising just $9.5 million. Its stock is now trading around $3.62--about 11% under its offering price.

In November, Oasmia's executive chairman, Julian Aleksov, told FierceAnimalHealth he believed there was a significant opportunity to expand the market for chemo drugs beyond specialty veterinary clinics. "We have learned so much about cancer in pets and we would like to control the market," he said. But he conceded that making a splash beyond oncology clinics would require the company to invest heavily in marketing to a broader veterinary audience.

In an interim report released in December, Oasmia reported no sales from its veterinary division for May through October of last year, as it was "still in a start-up phase," according to the filing.

- here's the release