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Ligand to Market FDA-Approved Pain Medicine

Ligand to Market FDA-Approved Pain Medicine

BY MARION WEBB

Senior Staff Writer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted marketing approval of Irish drug maker Elan Corp.’s pain drug Avinza, for which a San Diego-based biotechnology company has U.S. marketing rights.

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. obtained the marketing rights to Avinza in 1998.

The March 21 drug approval triggers a $5 million milestone payment from Ligand to Elan, which Ligand will pay in the form of 302,554 common shares, Ligand said in a company statement.

David Robinson, Ligand’s president and CEO, said he plans to launch Avinza in its second quarter of 2002. He estimated the sustained-release opioid market size grew to $2.3 billion in the U.S. last year.

“The approval of Avinza is a major milestone in Ligand’s commercial acceleration toward becoming a profitable, high-growth specialty pharmaceutical company,” Robinson said in a company statement.

Avinza is a once-daily capsule for patients suffering from moderate to severe pain.

It will be marketed to oncologists, hematologists, HIV specialists and pain centers, Ligand said.

Ligand stock closed at $16.52 on March 20 and was trading up 8.96 percent at $18 mid-day March 21 following the announcement.

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