Pharma

Generic drugmaker hopes novel drug delivery will give it a competitive edge

A pharmaceutical company making generic drugs that include its proprietary extended-release drug delivery technology is hoping to close a $6.5 million round by the end of the month. Ezra Innovations uses a unique drug design licensed from the University of Arkansas to improve the consistency with which a drug is released from pills over time. […]

A pharmaceutical company making generic drugs that include its proprietary extended-release drug delivery technology is hoping to close a $6.5 million round by the end of the month.

Ezra Innovations uses a unique drug design licensed from the University of Arkansas to improve the consistency with which a drug is released from pills over time. The company applies that technology to generic formulations of branded drugs so they can be taken less often or with better patient compliance.

“We’ve tested over 20 different drugs; four of them are in our sweet spot right now,” CEO Michael Geranen told an audience last October at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences BioVentures Private Equity Roundtable. (Watch his explanation of the company’s technology and strategy in the YouTube video below.) “Our lead drug targets are selling over $2 billion in branded sales. All of our targets have difficult formulations to match. We want to be the first — could be the second or third — generic to the market.”

A call to Geranen was not returned, but in the video from October, he says that a lead drug was identified and was scheduled to begin manufacturing last November. He also spoke of a pilot study expected to take place in India in January and February, with the goals of a bioequivalence trial this month, applying for Food and Drug Administration approval thereafter and reloading the pipeline with drug No. 2 sometime this summer.

At that time, the company was also finalizing a strategic partner agreement with a multinational generic drug company, he said.

Without knowing which drugs the company plans to replicate, it’s hard to speculate about its market opportunity or chances of success. But the U.S. generics market is in growth mode, expected to continue growing 10 percent annually through at least next year, as there are still a number of popular drugs with patents set to expire in late 2012 and 2013, including Cymbalta, Aciphex, Singulair and Actos. But a 2009 report from Espicom tags alternate drug delivery technologies as a popular route to gaining a competitive edge in the generics industry and identifies at least 13 companies as active competitors in the field.

Formed in 2008, Ezra Innovations has so far raised $4.2 million from 33 investors since April 2011, as noted in the filing.

[Photo from divine caroline]

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