Alpharma has licensed an investigational transdermal bupivacaine patch from Durect for an initial $20m, with further payments based on reaching developmental milestones.
The patch, currently known as Eladur, is based on Durect’s transdermal drug delivery technology that is designed to deliver a continuous supply of a therapeutic.
A single Eladur patch delivers bupivacaine for the treatment of pain associated with post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) for up to three days, compared with 12 hours for currently available lidocaine patches.
Dean Mitchell, CEO of Alpharma, said: “Today's announcement continues to solidify Alpharma's position as a premier developer and marketer of novel, topically delivered solutions for pain management.
"We believe that this novel bupivacaine patch has the potential to expand the large and rapidly growing market for topical pain products with its patient friendly design and extended duration of therapeutic use, and we are pleased to be adding this to our pipeline of products in development.”
PHN is a complication of herpes zoster, which results in pain at the site of the eruption that can persist for months and in some cases years.
Durect claims that Eladur provides pain relief over a longer period of time than currently available patches and can potentially penetrate deeper into tissue. The patch measures 10cm by 14 cm and is a breathable, drug-in-adhesive matrix transdermal delivery system.
It is currently in Phase II trials, with Durect successfully completing a Phase IIa study in 2007. Data was presented at the American Pain Society 27th Annual meeting, which showed that Eladur was effective at reducing pain.
In addition, the wearing of the patch was well tolerated, with no significant skin irritation or need to reapply the patch over the three day period.
Alpharma will now fund and control the development programme, with the company targeting a 2013 launch in the US.
Transdur drug delivery system
The drug delivery technology underlying the Eladur patch is also used in another Durect product, Transdur-sufentanil, for the treatment of chronic pain.
Endo Pharmaceuticals has licensed the product and expects to hold an end-of Phase II meeting with the US Food and Drug Administration around the turn of the year.
Durect claims the delivery technology allows the patch to be 20 per cent of the size of currently available patches. By increasing the size of the patch higher concentrations of the active ingredient can be delivered.
In addition, the patch can remain affixed for up to seven days, four days more than currently available transdermal treatments for chronic pain, according to Durect.