Based on Atrix's novel drug delivery technologies
Atrix Laboratories Inc. (Fort Collins, CO) has signed a comprehensive research and licensing agreement with Pfizer Inc. (New York, NY) to provide the drug giant with broad-based access to Atrix's drug delivery systems for new Pfizer pharmaceuticals. Pfizer will select appropriate compounds from its drug development pipeline to evaluate using Atrix's parenteral, transmucosal, and topical delivery technologies.
Pfizer, which will provide the funding to the R&D effort, has the right to market any products resulting from this agreement. Atrix retains manufacturing rights, and will receive royalties on the sales of any products resulting from the deal. Pfizer has made a $5 million equity investment in Atrix as part of the agreement.
According to Atrix CEO David Bethune, the deal proves that large pharmaceutical companies are serious about his firm's delivery systems. "This agreement [also] provides Atrix with a major opportunity for future growth," Bethune stated.
Commenting on the applications of Atrix's technologies on Pfizer products, Richard L. Jackson, senior vice president of research and development at Atrix, said, "This is an outstanding opportunity to demonstrate the value our exciting drug delivery systems may bring to Pfizer's compounds."
Pfizer will receive access to Atrigel, Atrix' flagship timed-release technology for local or systemic delivery of pharmaceuticals, including proteins, peptides or vaccines over periods ranging from a few days to several months. Atrix is currently evaluating Atrigel in its three Leuprogel (leuprolide acetate) products, now in Phase III clinical development for treating advanced prostate cancer.
Pfizer will also receive access to Atrix's topical and transmucosal delivery systems. The Bioerodible Mucoadhesive (BEMA) technology, a highly versatile pre-formed disc, provides drug delivery across the lining of the mouth. BEMA is designed for compounds that require a fast onset of action, such as pain management products, or drugs that are rapidly metabolized in the body before they can get to the site of action. Also included in the deal is Atrix's Mucocutaneous Absorption (MCA) technology, a gel that delivers drugs topically for periods ranging from a few hours to a few days. Because of its film-forming characteristics, the MCA system is well suited for topical applications where traditional creams and ointments are ineffective.
Rounding out the Atrix-Pfizer deal is Atrix's Solvent Microparticle System (SMP) a topical delivery system for highly water-insoluble drugs. The SMP system is currently being evaluated by Atrix in Phase II studies with Atrisone(TM) topical (dapsone) gel for acne.
Success through Alliances
Atrix has had great success collaborating with much larger, established pharmaceutical industry partners. It's key deals include:
Block Drug Corp., for three Atrix products to treat periodontal disease. The first product marketed by Block in the United States and Canada is the Atrisorb Barrier for guided tissue regeneration. In October 1998, Block began selling an improved version this product called the Atrisorb FreeFlow Barrier for use in combination therapy with bone replacement graft materials. In November 1998, Block began national sales of Atrix's flagship product for periodontal disease, the Atridox subgingival anti-infective treatment. Atrix is currently finishing the pivotal clinical evaluation of it's second-generation Atrisorb product, which will provide local release of the antibiotic doxycycline at the site of gum surgery. Upon approval, Block will market this product in North America.
Pharmacia & Upjohn, for periodontal therapy for companion animals. Pharmacia & Upjohn currently hold a strong position in the companion animal dentistry market and PERIOceutic Gel will be an important addition to their product line. Canine periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and has been implicated in the development of other systemic dieseases. This product is the first and only localized antibiotic treatment for canine periodontal disease, a significant healthcare problem that will affect virtually all of the 50 million dogs in the U.S. as they reach their later years. Atrix manufactures this product.
Heritage Consumer Products LLC, for developing an external analgesic containing capsaicin and menthol in a film-forming gel. Atrix continued this work after acquiring ViroTex in December 1998, completing the development work in early 1999. Heritage launched the Eucalyptamint 2000 Arthritis Pain-Relieving Gel into national distribution in April 1999. Atrix and Heritage expanded their original license agreement to include a manufacturing and supply agreement, which was signed in June 1999.
JB Williams Co. ViroTex Corp., an Atrix subsidiary, developed the Viractin cold sore and fever-blister medication based on a proprietary topical drug delivery system. Before its acquisition by Atrix in December 1998, ViroTex sold the Viractin product to JB Williams company for cash and a future royalty stream.
For more information: Richard L. Jackson, VP of research and development, Atrix, 2579 Midpoint Drive, Fort Collins, CO 80525. Tel: 970-482-5868.
Managing Editor, Drug Discovery Online and Pharmaceutical Online