Meridica DPI gets Pfizer seal of approval

Related tags Pharmacology Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Pfizer

Meridica has licensed its newly-designed Xcelovair dry powder
inhaler (DPI) to Pfizer in what amounts to something of a coup for
the small UK start-up.

Meridica has licensed its newly-designed Xcelovair dry powder inhaler (DPI) to Pfizer in what amounts to something of a coup for the small UK start-up.

Formed just two years ago as a £10 million (€14.4m) spin-out from PA Consulting, Meridica is focused on the development of new drug delivery systems, particularly for respiratory drugs but also for solid dosage forms.

The Xcelovair device has been designed to accommodate a wide range of drug molecules and formulations suitable for pulmonary delivery in both adults and children. It contains 60 pre-metered, hermetically sealed doses, which can accommodate formulation mass weights in the 5mg-20mg range.

The dispersion system is one of the main points of difference for the device, says Meridica, and focuses on maximising the fine particle fraction delivery to achieve up to 50 per cent fine particle mass. Another key advantage is its resistance to moisture penetration.

Pfizer does not spring to mind as a company with a strong franchise in respiratory medicine, but is has been taking steps in this direction with the licensing of Boehringer Ingeleim's Spiriva (tiotropium), a new drug for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Under the terms of the license, Pfizer is making an upfront payment, followed by further milestone and royalty payments, to the UK firm. Concurrently, Pfizer is also taking an equity stake in Meridica, taking it out of full ownership by PA Consulting for the first time.

The development of novel DPIs has been something of a UK theme of late, with new devices rolling out from SkyePharma and Bespak, and Meridica is understandably thrilled with the Pfizer deal.

"Completing the development of a dry powder inhaler in a little over two years and licensing it to the world's number one pharmaceutical company is absolutely unprecedented in this industry,"​ said Meridica's chief executive Dr Ian Smith.