Indivior Bets $145M on Opiant’s Opioid Overdose Recovery Candidate

Opioid addiction

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After observing Opiant Pharmaceuticals and its scientific approach to treating addiction disorders for some time, Indivior PLC made a $145 million bid to acquire the company.

In a conference call Monday morning, Indivior Chief Executive Officer Mark Crossley said the acquisition provides significant growth opportunities and value to the Virginia-based company.

Crossley pointed to Opiant’s lead candidate OPNT003, an intranasal-delivered opioid overdose recovery product, as the crown jewel in the deal. If approved, OPNT003 could be administered by anyone, including non-medically trained individuals, to an individual in the midst of an opioid overdose.

OPNT003 is a nasal formulation of nalmefene, which was previously used intravenously but had since been taken off the market for lack of use. Opiant revisited the formulation for nasal delivery, particularly due to the rise of fentanyl-related overdoses.

In a previous pharmacokinetic study, Opiant found that nasal nalmefene achieved significantly higher plasma concentrations compared to an intramuscular injection.

During the conference call, Crossley said illegal synthetic opioids are the leading cause of overdose-related deaths in the United States. Based on available clinical data, Indivior believes OPTN003 has the potential to become the standard-of-care treatment for opioid overdose treatment.

“The landscape of opioid abuse disorder has been transformed by fentanyl, which can be 40 to 50 times more potent than heroin and have a prolonged effect. Fentanyl is driving the opioid overdose epidemic, accounting for almost 90% of reported overdose-related deaths,” Crossley said.

Currently available products, including Narcan, which was developed by Opiant and out-licensed, have not been as effective a treatment for synthetic opioids like fentanyl, Crossley said. There are reports of first responders having to use multiple cans of Narcan to help people who have overdosed on fentanyl, he noted.

Because of its potential as an overdose treatment, Crossley said OPTN003 could generate between $150 and $200 million in annual revenue.

Beyond OPNT003, Opiant is developing OPNT004 (drinabant), a potential treatment for overdoses related to synthetic cannabinoids, such as those sold under the names K2 or Spice. In its pipeline, Opiant also has OPNT002 (nasal naltrexone) for Alcohol Use Disorder. OPNT002 is aimed at binge drinkers who are unable to stop drinking once they have begun.

Crossley said Opiant’s portfolio of product candidates is an excellent strategic fit for Indivior, adding that its pipeline will diversify and strengthen the company’s offerings. Coupled with Indivior’s commercial capabilities, Crossley said the combined companies will be able to provide significant help for patients who have overdosed or are battling different forms of addiction. He added that the Opiant team will bolster Indivior’s scientific and commercial capabilities.

In a brief statement, Opiant CEO Roger Crystal, M.D., said the deal will enable the company to leverage Indivior’s commercial strength and resources to maximize the value of OPNT003 and its pipeline assets.

In a previous interview with BioSpace, Crystal touted the potential of OPNT003, citing the half-life of the drug, which is much longer than both Narcan and fentanyl. That long half-life will be critical for saving the lives of people who have overdosed, he said.

Under the terms of the acquisition, Indivior will acquire Opiant for $28 per share, which includes an upfront cash payment of $20 per share and contingent value rights worth up to $8 per share. The CVRs are payable upon achievement of clinical and commercial milestones for OPNT003.  

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