Aratana Therapeutics starts new canine study; reports good results on another

Dog with a bandaged leg--Courtesy of Aratana

Pet meds developer Aratana Therapeutics ($PETX) has begun a pivotal field study of a new drug to treat postsurgery pain in dogs and reported positive results from another study for a product it hopes to use for the treatment of osteoarthritis in canines.

The new study, dubbed AT-003, is for an extended-release injectable formulation of bupivacaine, which Aratana has under license from Pacira Pharmaceuticals ($PCRX). The pivotal study will enroll about 150 client-owned dogs undergoing knee surgery and will be conducted under a study protocol for which Aratana received concurrence from the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, the company said in a press release.

"Knee surgery is common in dogs and represents one of the most prevalent claims of pet health insurance," Ernst Heinen, chief development officer for Aratana, said in a statement. "AT-003 represents a truly differentiated treatment approach for managing post-surgical pain."

Additionally, the company reported in a separate announcement, its AT-001 study had positive results for its drug used to treat pain in dogs with osteoarthritis. In the study, dogs that got the drug Grapiprant in a once-daily oral dose showed improvements in pain assessment scores that were "statistically significant compared to placebo."

Aratana said it hopes to get FDA approval and begin marketing both drugs in 2016.

In August, San Francisco-based Kindred Bioscience ($KIN) said it didn't meet the primary endpoint during a trial of CereKin, which is also designed to treat canine osteoarthritis and is based off studies for Amgen ($AMGN) and Pfizer's ($PFE) Enbrel. The Kindred study was randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled to evaluate the safety and efficacy of two doses of the drug.

Aratana continues to burn through cash as it slogs through the process of getting 18 products to market that it currently has in its pipeline. Last month, the company reported its third-quarter loss doubled year over year to $10.1 million. The company caught Wall Street's eye when it raised $40 million in a July 2013 IPO and then pocketed another $90 million in a secondary offering 6 months later.

- see the AT-003 announcement
- see the AT-001 announcement