Egalet scores up to $20M for next-gen pain drug as FDA aims to block abuse

Egalet has found more venture capital support for development of next-generation opioid treatments. The Malvern, PA-based developer has taken in $10 million of a potential $20 million round led by previous backer Index Ventures.

The company develops drug-delivery platforms that offer therapeutic release of pain medicines while making them difficult to abuse. With the new capital, the company plans to advance one of its two lead opioid treatments, Egalet-001, into late-stage clinical development.

In 2008 prescription drug abuse trumped car crashes as the top cause of U.S. deaths from accidents, the company said. Health officials have implicated opioid abuse as a leading culprit in fatal overdoses, and earlier this year the FDA said the agency would no longer accept applications for approval of generic versions of the original OxyContin. That version is easily broken down for people to snort or inject the active opioid ingredient.

The FDA's decision was a victory for Purdue Pharma, which released a new version of OxyContin with abuse-deterrent properties in 2010. And other companies with new opioid-based treatments see an opening to advance their similar medicines to the FDA, which has taken steps to combat abuse of painkillers.  

"With these funds we will be able to begin our pivotal studies for Egalet 001 in the first quarter of 2014," Bob Radie, Egalet's president and CEO, said in a statement. "We plan to submit a new drug application, or NDA, to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration… in the fourth quarter of 2014."

Egalet needs to meet multiple conditions to pick up the second half of the up to $20 million financing led by Index, according to the company's release on Thursday. Other previous backers of the startup include Atlas Venture, CLS Capital, Omega Funds and Sunstone Capital.

- here's the release