Vernalis buys intranasal opioid company

Related tags Morphine Opioid

UK biotechnology company Ionix Pharmaceuticals is gearing up for
acquisition by Vernalis in a share-based deal valuing Ionix at
around £12.5 million (€18.2m).

Ionix' principal asset is IX-1003, a proprietary intranasal formulation of buprenorphine for acute post-operative pain. Buprenorphine is a well-known opiate analgesic and the intranasal formulation is being developed to provide rapid pain relief whilst potentially reducing some side effects associated with such agents.

The IX-1003 program, which has completed Phase I testing and is expected to commence Phase II in the second half of 2005, is partnered with Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare, which developed and sells buprenorphine and will pay the development costs for this clinical study.

Archimedes Pharma, the company that acquired West Pharmaceutical Services' drug delivery business earlier this year, developed the intranasal drug delivery technology used in the product.

Completion of the deal, which is not subject to Vernalis' shareholder approval, is expected before the end of July.

Reckitt Benckiser also partners with Ionix on two pre-clinical programmes, IX-1004 for the treatment of chronic pain and IX-1005 for the treatment of opiate addiction - based on this intranasal delivery technology.

Ionix retains an option to co-promote IX-1003 in the US and will receive milestones and royalties through the development and commercialisation of the product. Should Vernalis exercise the Ionix option to co-promote the product at the end of the Phase II trial, it will contribute to a proportion of future developmental and marketing costs in return for a share of profits.

Related topics Ingredients Delivery technologies

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