Last week we reported that the City of Chicago filed a lawsuit for improper marketing of opioids. On Friday the FDA approved BUNAVAIL for Opioid Dependence.
BioDelivery Sciences International, Inc. (BDSI) (NASDAQ: BDSI) received approval of the New Drug Application (NDA) for BUNAVAIL™ (buprenorphine and naloxone) buccal film (CIII) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). BUNAVAIL is indicated for the maintenance treatment of opioid dependence and should be used as part of a complete treatment plan to include counseling and psychosocial support. BDSI expects to launch BUNAVAIL late in the third quarter of 2014.
BUNAVAIL was designed using BDSI’s advanced drug delivery technology, BioErodible MucoAdhesive (BEMA®), allowing for the efficient and convenient delivery of buprenorphine while potentially overcoming some of the administration challenges presented by the sublingual (under the tongue) dosage forms currently available. BUNAVAIL has twice the bioavailability (drug absorbed into the body) of buprenorphine compared to Suboxone, the market leader in this category. As a result of the improved absorption of buprenorphine with BUNAVAIL, which is the direct result of the BEMA technology, plasma concentrations of buprenorphine comparable to Suboxone can be achieved with half the dose, which may help to reduce the potential for misuse and diversion and potentially lessen the incidence of certain side effects.
BUNAVAIL is the first and only formulation of buprenorphine and naloxone for buccal (inside of the cheek) administration. The ability of BUNAVAIL to stick on the inside of the cheek, unlike sublingual products that need to be kept in place under the tongue until they dissolve, allows patients to talk, swallow and go about normal daily activities while the medication is being consistently absorbed.
“BUNAVAIL is a novel treatment approach for the more than two million people in the U.S. afflicted with opioid dependence,” saidGregory Sullivan, M.D., principal investigator of the Phase 3 BUNAVAIL safety study and an addiction specialist and Medical Director of Parkway Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama. “BUNAVAIL utilizes advanced drug delivery technology to fulfill an important need for treatment options with improved drug absorption and patient convenience, and as such, may help to address some of the challenges associated with sublingual administration and possibly help improve treatment compliance.”
Dr. Sullivan continued, “BUNAVAIL was assessed in a Phase 3 clinical study in 249 patients who were converted from Suboxone sublingual tablet or film to BUNAVAIL. In this study, BUNAVAIL demonstrated favorable safety and efficacy in the maintenance treatment of opioid dependence as demonstrated by the high study retention rate and the low frequency of patients with positive urine tests for non-prescribed opioids over the 12-week period. The majority of patients who participated found BUNAVAIL easy to use and pleasant in taste. Additionally, prior to conversion to BUNAVAIL, about 40 percent of patients were experiencing constipation while receiving Suboxone tablet or film, a common problem with chronic opioid use, and more than two-thirds of these patients reported resolution of symptoms when they switched from Suboxone to BUNAVAIL.”
“FDA’s approval of BUNAVAIL is another example of how we are creating products to help patients in their battle to overcome debilitating medical issues such as opioid dependence and is a tribute to the dedication and focus of our employees,” said Dr.Mark A. Sirgo, President and Chief Executive Officer of BDSI. “This is also a transformative event for BDSI, as we will be launching a product with our own dedicated sales force for the first time, which we believe will lead to significant value creation for our shareholders. We plan to share the details of our overall commercial plans later this summer as we approach the launch of BUNAVAIL. I am confident that with the experience of the marketing and sales resources we have in place, we will have a positive launch and overall market reception for BUNAVAIL.”
“Opioid addiction is a serious issue that can often be difficult to treat,” said Tim Lepak, President of the National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment (NAABT). “People with opioid addiction face significant challenges in their efforts to rebuild their lives and achieve sustained addiction remission. It is important that patients have treatment options that are effective, safe and easy to use in order to provide them with their best chance for success. I believe people addicted to prescription opioids and heroin will welcome BUNAVAIL as a novel treatment option.”
BUNAVAIL is the first mucoadhesive buccal film formulation of buprenorphine to compete directly with Suboxone sublingual film. In 2013, sales of Suboxone sublingual film increased to more than $1.3 billion in the U.S. while the total market grew to more than$1.7 billion, driven by a 14 percent increase in prescriptions according to data from Symphony Health Solutions.
BDSI plans to launch BUNAVAIL in late third quarter 2014 and anticipates peak sales potential of BUNAVAIL of up to $250 millionin the U.S. BDSI will also begin entertaining commercial partnerships for BUNAVAIL outside of the U.S. In March 2014, BDSI announced it had entered into an agreement with Quintiles to support the launch of BUNAVAIL. Under terms of the agreement, Quintiles will provide a range of services to support the launch and subsequent commercialization of BUNAVAIL in the U.S., including recruiting and training a field sales force. In the U.S., nearly 5,000 physicians are responsible for approximately 90 percent of prescriptions for buprenorphine products for the treatment of opioid dependence, according to recent data from Symphony Health Solutions.
Separately, BDSI has entered into an agreement with Ashfield Market Access to provide managed markets and trade support for BUNAVAIL. Ashfield Market Access, which is led by industry veterans including Steve Stefano, who led GlaxoSmithKline’s managed markets group for more than 20 years, will be responsible for executing a payer strategy aimed at maximizing patient access to BUNAVAIL.
BDSI will be providing additional information regarding the FDA approval of BUNAVAIL and commercialization plans in the upcoming weeks. BDSI will be presenting on Wednesday, June 11 at 3:20 PM Central Time (4:20 PM Eastern Time) at the 34thAnnual William Blair Growth Stock Conference in Chicago which will be webcast live and can be accessed at www.bdsi.com. BDSI also plans to hold an analyst and investor update meeting later in the summer to provide additional insight into plans for the late third quarter launch of BUNAVAIL.