Imagine having pain relief for weeks from a tiny, button-sized device implanted under the skin. That’s exactly what Axxia Pharmaceuticals is striving for in developing an implantable device that can deliver extended pain relief medication for up to 90 days — all internally.
Besides being minimally invasive and relatively long lasting, the implant can allow for fewer office visits and greater patient convenience. The device’s delivery system can also be controlled by a physician, which not only lowers risks of overdose, but patient abuse and misuse. The implant can deliver a steady flow of pain relief medication without peaks and valleys or slowing down over time.
The first application of the implant will deliver hydromorphone, a medication used to treat cancer patients suffering from chronic pain. The device is made from non-allergenic materials, which are already approved for human use. For safety, the implant can easily be removed without sutures by a physician’s assistant or nurse in under 10 minutes.
Because of concerns over abuse, opiates are essentially banned outside of Europe, Japan, and North America. For this reason and the fact that patients in many parts of the world don’t have ready access to opioids, Axxia is looking to market the shirt button-sized implant internationally. According to the World Health Organization, each year over 6 million people with cancer or AIDS die with severe, untreated pain.
Other extended-release opiate delivery methods include an intranasal devise and transdermal patches. However, it’s difficult to achieve a stable flow of medications over time with some of the devices. Some show signs of possible drug spikes upon implantation, which, in the case of opiates, can be lethal. Additionally, drug delivery can slow down over time, which decreases the effectiveness of the devices for treating chronic pain.
As a specialty pharmaceutical company, Axxia Pharmaceuticals is focused on implantable drug delivery technologies. Its biocompatible, subcutaneous opiate drug delivery device is patented.
To date, Axxia Pharmaceuticals has raised $300,000 out of $800,000 planned to develop the implant, according to a recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
Axxia Pharmaceuticals plans to file an Investigational New Drug application for the pain-relief implant by September 30, 2012, according to Wayne Pollock, CEO.