Opiant Pharmaceuticals Announces Contract with Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for Up to $4.6 Million to Accelerate Development of OPNT003, Nasal Nalmefene, for Treatment of Opioid Overdose
Opioid overdose is a significant public health crisis worsened by the increasing prevalence of synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. Fentanyl is 50-fold more potent than heroin, far easier and less expensive to produce and has a significantly longer half-life. Fentanyl and related synthetic opioids were linked to more than 55% of the nearly 49,000 opioid overdose deaths in 2017 in the U.S.
In the early 2000s, fentanyl vapor was used by Russian forces to end a hostage standoff with Chechen rebels, resulting in 117 deaths and hundreds more hospitalized, illustrating the potential for weaponizing synthetic opioids. The contract with BARDA will allow for accelerated development of OPNT003 as a medical countermeasure in the event of a fentanyl chemical attack. The high affinity of nalmefene at mu opioid receptors, combined with a rapid onset of action and long duration of action, makes it particularly well-suited to treat fentanyl overdose.
“Current treatments sometimes require multiple doses to be effective and in a large-scale terrorist attack involving fentanyl or similar drugs, repeat doses of the treatment may not always be feasible,” said
“Our approach to drug development is driven by innovative thinking and a commitment to public-private collaboration,” said
The BARDA contract will cover activities not funded by the NIDA grant through a potential New Drug Application submission, and provides approximately
BARDA was established to aid in securing the nation from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. BARDA supports the transition of medical countermeasures, such as vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics, from research through advanced development towards consideration for approval by the
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Source: Opiant Pharmaceuticals, Inc.