) recently announced encouraging top-line results from its human
abuse liability (HAL) study on NKTR-181. NKTR-181 is being
developed for the treatment of moderate-to-severe chronic pain.
The news impacted the share price of Nektar positively.
Nektar enrolled 42 recreational drug abusers for the randomized,
double-blind, placebo- and active-controlled study. The study
measured the "drug-liking" scores on a bi-polar visual analogue
scale (VAS) under each treatment group of NKTR-181 (100 mg, 200
mg and 400 mg), placebo and the widely abused painkiller,
oxycodone (40 mg). Nektar mentioned in its conference call that
the study was designed as per the US Food and Drug Administration
(FDA)'s recent draft guidance. The company stated that the drug
is designed to enter the patient's bloodstream at a slow pace
thereby reducing euphoric feelings that can lead to abuse.
Results from the study showed that "drug liking" and "feeling
high" scores were similar in patients treated with NKTR-181 when
compared to patients under placebo. The study further revealed
that patients under NKTR-181 showed statistically significant
lower "drug liking" scores along with reduced "feeling high"
scores in comparison to patients treated with oxycodone. The
company expects to complete the study soon with results expected
Data from the study further showed that the sleepiness score was
less in all doses of NKTR-181 compared to that of oxycodone.
Nektar is currently evaluating NKTR-181 in a phase II study for
the treatment of chronic pain. The company enrolled around 200
opioid naïve patients, suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee.
The patients will be randomized to receive either NKTR-181 or
We remind investors that NKTR-181 currently enjoys fast track
designation in the US for the treatment of moderate-to-severe
chronic pain. Nektar mentioned in its conference call that there
are more than 100 million patients suffering from chronic pain in
the US. The management at Nektar believes that the candidate can
be a leading product in the opioid market for chronic pain which
is worth $12 billion. However, we remind investors that the
market for chronic pain currently has big companies like
Johnson & Johnson
Nektar, a biopharmaceutical company, presently carries a Zacks
Rank #4 (Sell). Other biopharma stocks such as
Jazz Pharmaceuticals Public Limited Company
) currently look attractive with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong
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