Pfizer spares painkiller Remoxy from R&D chopping block

In a move that boosted the fortunes of two biotech outfits, Pfizer ($PFE) has elected to continue development of the tamper-resistant painkiller Remoxy with a planned Phase I study, Nasdaq reported.

Shares of Pain Therapeutics ($PTIE), which is partnered with Pfizer on Remoxy, rallied as high as $3.50 per share on Friday after reports of the Phase I study surfaced. Pain and Durect ($DRRX), which provides drug tech for Remoxy, have seen their share prices rise 24% and 13%, respectively, since Aug. 15, as of late Monday morning.

Both Pain and Durect suffered in May after the companies revealed that Pfizer was weighing whether to pursue further development of Remoxy; the pharma giant learned from the FDA that it would likely take years to address the agency's concerns about the storied program, which Pfizer scooped up in its $3.9 billion buyout of King Pharmaceuticals in 2011.

Pain has yet to regain the value lost in the meltdown in its share price in May. Remoxy faces years of additional work in the clinic, and that could significantly delay payoffs from Pfizer.

The FDA shot down Remoxy with complete response letters in 2008 and 2011, and nobody knows whether any future attempts at an approval from Pfizer will pan out for the companies involved. The formulation of oxycodone is supposed to create hurdles for addicts looking to get a quick fix from the commonly abused painkiller.

Pfizer has been culling certain programs from the ranks of its R&D contenders, and its research heads have been keeping an eye on spending and diverting investment away from candidates with weak prospects. Apparently, they have spared the Remoxy program.

- here's the item from Nasdaq