Pacira's FDA nod marks win for extended-release tech

Pacira Pharmaceuticals ($PCRX) has gotten a green light from the FDA to begin sales of its long-acting pain drug Exparel, making the treatment for post-surgical pain the third approved product that uses the firm's extended-release tech called DepoFoam.

DepoFoam encapsulates active drug ingredients such as Exparel's bupivacaine in liposomes, and the multivesicular liposomal tech can be tuned to release drugs over a period of one to 30 days, according to Pacira. Exparel, for example, showed in a clinical trial that it could reduce pain and decrease need for opioids for up to three days after surgeries. Bupivacaine injections without DepoFoam last for only about 7 hours, the company says.

Pacira's FDA approval means good things for London-based drug delivery specialist SkyePharma as well. SkyePharma sold the rights to DepoFoam to the VC syndicate that formed Pacira back in 2007, Xconomy reported. Under its deal with Pacira, SkyePharma gets a $10 million milestone payment when sales of Exparel begin next year, up to $52 million in other potential milestones and royalties on sales of the drug in the U.S., major European markets and Japan, Pharma Times reports.

The other two approved therapies that use the DepoFoam tech include DepoCyt for lymphomatous meningitis and DepoDur for post-surgical pain. Pacira, which doesn't market those products, says that DepoFoam tech is also being researched to deliver the drug methotrexate for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and cancer and to extend the release of NSAID treatments. 

- here's the company's release
- check out Xconomy's article
- and the Pharma Times piece