In a phase three study of 600 patients, Nektar’s drug, known as NKTR-181, significantly improved chronic low back pain vs. a placebo in patients never treated with an opioid. The trial ran 12 weeks and included a dosing schedule in which patients received 100 milligrams up to 400 milligrams of the drug.
During that period — in which dosing was gradually adjusted for best results — average pain scores dropped by 65%, Nektar said in a news release. Average pain scores for patients on the placebo increased more than for those who received NKTR-181.
Statistically significant proportions of patients on NKTR-181 experienced pain reductions that topped 30% and 50%. A statistically significant proportion of patients on NKTR-181 reported that their general overall status and quality of life had “improved” or “very much improved.”
The drug was well tolerated and proved safe, the study showed. Most commonly, patients experienced nausea and constipation in both the drug and placebo arms.
At the closing bell on the stock market today, Nektar stock catapulted 42.7% to 22.11.
IBD’S TAKE: Nektar stock has an IBD Composite Rating of 37 out of a best-possible 99, meaning that it underperforms six in 10 stocks in terms of key growth metrics. A better stock bet would be Celgene, which tops the biotech industry group with a CR of 99. Visit the Stock Checkup for a list of strong biotechs.
Full data will be presented at a medical meeting in the second half of the year. Nektar didn’t identify the meeting in which it plans to release the results. Clinical investigator Dr. Martin Hale sees NKTR-181 as a safer method of pain treatment than opioids like oxycodone.
“While standard opioid analgesics, including abuse-deterrent formulations, have been the most effective way to treat chronic pain, they are associated with serious safety concerns and many opioid-naive patients fear taking them because of the potential for abuse and addiction,” he said.
NKTR-181 data suggests “it is a transformational pain medicine,” he said in the release. In a human abuse potential study, even the highest dose of NKTR-181 was barely distinguishable from the placebo in terms of feeling high. The effects were modest compared to oxycodone’s.
Nektar’s stock move, a gain of more than 44% at one point, was one of several biotechs to make massive gains Monday. Among IBD’s 422-company Biomed/Biotech industry group, Nektar’s stock climb was only behind Esperion Therapeutics (ESPR) stock, which launched 64.3%, near 38.90, on news related to its cholesterol drug.
4:09 PM ET Esperion stock recovered from an Amgen-induced pitfall on Monday after…