UK novel drug delivery developer Vectura and UK venture capital firm Unilever Ventures have jointly established a new speciality pharmaceutical company focusing on oral and transdermal drug delivery systems.
The new firm, PharmaKodex, will focus on reformulating existing drugs for new indications or combinations, or to provide an improved route of administration.
The partnership will allow Vectura to focus on its blossoming core business of pulmonary delivery technologies, while still keep its hand in the oral and dermal technologies market.
"Vectura has always believed there to be value in its oral and dermal technologies," said Dr Chris Blackwell, chief executive of Vectura.
"While our focus is now on the development of our own inhaled drugs for local and systemic use, we believe that the spin-out of these technologies to PharmaKodex is the ideal way to retain a share in that value."
The drug formulation industry has seen a 38 per cent growth in the past five years and is expected to continue to boom, since there is now a real trend in drug companies turning to specialist formulation companies to find different ways of marketing both new and old compounds by coming up with new formulations.
Drug companies are now doing more complex and exciting things with dosage forms, including controlled-release tablets, multi-coated tablets, granule coatings and transdermal patches, in order to survive in increasingly competitive markets.
A relatively emerging market, transdermal delivery is now worth $12.7bn (€10.7 bn) and is expected to increase to $21.5bn in the year 2010 and $31.5bn in the year 2015.
PharmaKodex already has a development pipeline of seven prescription products and six over-the-counter (OTC) products, based on oral and dermal technologies that Vectura transferred over to the new business, as well as two enabling technologies licensed to PharmaKodex by the Unilever Group, the parent company of Unilever Ventures.
Innovations brought to PharmaKodex by Vectura include a novel 'solid syrup' technology capable of rapid dissolution as well as controlled drug delivery and a 'patchless' unit dose transdermal delivery system capable of delivering high drug payloads with controllable skin fluxes.
Unilever has licensed its novel encapsulation technology as well as a particle formulation/solubilisation nanotechnology from Iota NanoSolutions.
"Unilever makes a significant investment in developing formulation and delivery technologies and we have identified the potential for some of these technologies to provide unique benefits when applied in pharmaceutical applications," said Andrew Lane, director of Unilever Ventures.
"By aligning our technologies with the assets, drug delivery capabilities and expertise of Vectura we have created what I believe will be a strong new investee company."