Pacira: Safer than Opioids?

05/20/2016 7:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

John McCamant

Editor, Medical Technology Stock Letter

The move away from opiods is gaining momentum, explains biotech sector John McCamant, editor The Medical Technology Stock Letter.

Pacira Pharmaceuticals (PCRX) has developed Exparel, which is just beginning to fill this important and very large void for non-opioid pain medication.

Paicra has begun an aggressive investment growth plan surrounding Exparel — the drug is in “re-launch” mode and Pacira now has the ability to reclaim the drug’s benefit up to 72-hours of post-operative pain control in its label.

Product discussions and follow-ups are occurring steadily at major meetings such as the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, major orthopedic care providers at the American Society of Regional Anesthesia meeting.

Hospitals are continuing to employ a local opioid-sparing approach in pain management with Exparel having shown that it can substantially reduce hospital resource consumption and promote faster patient mobilization.

This approach also shows a decreased risk of falling, shorter hospital stays, and increased patient satisfaction, which ultimately makes a significant difference in hospitals’ reimbursement and bottom lines.

For example, a Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center study has recognized Exparel as one of several important elements for its breast reconstructive surgery enhanced recovery protocol that can lead to significantly reduced opioid use and one-day reductions in the hospital length of stay.

Other soft tissue procedures like oncology surgery, abdominal, thoracic, bariatric and bladder surgery should further expand the use of Exparel.

Another major potential growth driver, the public outcry against the abuse of opioid prescription drugs is fueling Exparel use.

The FDA and regulators everywhere are aggressively asserting plans to try to curtail the use of the addictive pain pills and the burgeoning global epidemic that keeps rising.

Pacira is working with many state and local governments to use Exparel as a safer alternative to opiods.

The trends for utilization and sales are positive and we still believe that $300 million is a realistic forecast for this year’s Exparel sales.

A third quarter launch in oral surgery is on track and the firm expects to complete enrollment in two nerve block studies by the end of the year. PCRX is a buy under $75 with a target price of $90.

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By John McCamant, Editor The Medical Technology Stock Letter 

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