The transaction is being structured as a reorganisation of Arius - a specialty pharmaceutical and drug delivery company - which will become a newly-formed, wholly-owned subsidiary of BDSI.
Mark Sirgo, a founder of Arius, will join BDSI, becoming senior vice president of commercialisation and corporate development, while fellow founder Andrew Finn will be senior VP of product development.
The deal brings Arius' BEMA technology for the buccal delivery of drugs to BDSI, which specialises in a nanotechnology called Bioral for the delivery of a wide range of compound types.
BEMA was originally developed by Atrix Laboratories, and is being used by Arius under an exclusive license as the basis for improved, rapid-acting versions of the opioid analgesic fentanyl and insomnia treatment zolpidem.
Arius is developing BEMA fentanyl for treating cancer pain and is planning to start Phase III trials by mid-2005.
BDSI is developing a drug delivery technology based on cochleate encapsulation, using a matrix comprised of cochleates, a naturally occurring material based on calcium-phospholipid structures. Last year, the company presented preliminary data suggesting that aspirin delivered in this matrix did not cause GI inflammation in animals, and seemed to improve the delivery of the drug to target cells.
It recently signed an agreement with Italian company Defiante to develop this painkiller concept. Meanwhile, it is using the cochleate technology in a candidate HIV vaccine formulation and a drug to treat nausea and vomiting.