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Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (PCRX - Snapshot Report) recently announced that the data from the second IMPROVE study on its marketed product Exparel was published online in the Journal of Pain Research.

This study was conducted on 27 adults who underwent planned ileostomy reversal procedures. Of the 27, 16 patients were enrolled in the Exparel-based multimodal group. The remaining patients were enrolled in the opioid-based group.

Results from the study revealed a 2.1 day reduction in median length of hospital stay, $2,800 reduction in mean hospitalization costs and 92 mg reduction in mean opioid consumption in patients under the Exparel group compared to the opioid-based treatment arm.

This was the second open-label phase IV study under the IMPROVE program. The IMPROVE studies evaluate the differences in postsurgical opioid use and health economic outcomes between patients receiving Exparel and those receiving a standard opioid-based analgesic regimen.

Data from the first IMPROVE study was published in the Journal of Pain Research in Nov 2012. This study showed a 2.9 day reduction in median length of hospital stay, $3,084 reduction in mean hospitalization costs and 58 mg reduction in mean opioid consumption in patients under the Exparel group as compared to the opioid-based treatment arm.

Exparel is currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for administration into the surgical site to produce postsurgical analgesia. The drug was approved by the FDA in the final quarter of 2011 and launched in Apr 2012.

We note the pipeline at Pacira includes DepoNSAID for infiltration and intraarticular indication and DepoMethotrexate for rheumatoid arthritis and oncology.

Pacira carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (VRTX - Analyst Report) and Santarus, Inc. look equally attractive with a ZacksRank #2. Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc (JAZZ - Analyst Report) appears to be better positioned with a ZacksRank #1 (Strong Buy).

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