One new product on the market, two to go for Aratana

Dog with arthritis
Aratana's first major product launch is Nocita to treat postsurgical pain in dogs.

Aratana Therapeutics reached a major milestone on October 5 with its injectable pain reliever Nocita (bupivacaine)--one of three drugs it won FDA approval for this year--now on the market. Nocita, which relieves pain for 72 hours with one dose, is designed to be given to dogs immediately after cranial cruciate ligament surgery. The FDA approved the product in August.

Aratana first began developing Nocita in late 2012, when it formed a licensing agreement with Pacira Pharmaceuticals, which markets a similar product for managing postsurgical pain in people, Exparel. Aratana got the veterinary rights to the drug in return for a one-time payment to Pacira of $1 million and a double-digit royalty on net sales. Pacira is handling all manufacturing of Nocita--an arrangement that no doubt helped speed the drug to market.

Wall Street analysts are expecting the launch to help push Aratana’s sales up from $678,000 last year--most of which came from a T-cell lymphoma treatment for dogs--to as much as $46 million in 2017, according to data from Thomson Reuters. Aratana did not provide pricing details in a press release announcing the product’s availability.

In anticipation of an expected revenue haul, shares of Aratana have nearly doubled since the start of the year to $9.20. But analysts will be expecting significant contributions from the company’s other two newly approved products: Galliprant (grapiprant) to treat osteoarthritis pain in dogs and Entyce (capromorelin), an appetite stimulator for dogs.

The timing of the Galliprant launch is out of Aratana’s hands, because in April, it struck a co-marketing agreement with Eli Lilly’s Elanco. Aratana took $45 million up front and gave Elanco overseas marketing rights to the drug. The two companies will share responsibilities in the U.S., but Elanco is taking the lead on the launch and it has not yet settled on a date, a spokeswoman for Aratana told Fierce Animal Health in an e-mail.

Aratana has maintained full ownership of Entyce, but is not planning to launch it until early next year. During a meeting in New York a year ago with investors, Aratana CEO Steven St. Peter estimated that the total market opportunity for the three new drugs would surpass $200 million a year.

Brent Standridge, who joined Aratana in June as chief operating officer to help transition the company to a commercial operation, said in the release that he is eager to get Nocita into the hands of veterinary surgeons. Aratana expects to fill the first orders of the product this month.

- here’s the release

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