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Nektar (NKTR) Seeks Approval for Analgesic Opioid Candidate

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Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR - Free Report) announced the submission of a new drug application (“NDA”) for its analgesic opioid candidate, NKTR-181, for the treatment of chronic low back pain. The candidate exhibited reduced incidence of euphoria associated with opioids, which can lead to abuse and addiction.

Shares of the company are up 2.4% in pre-market. Nektar’s shares have outperformed the industry so far this year. The stock has soared 34.5% against the broader industry’s decline of 6.5%.

The NDA included data from 15 clinical studies, which evaluated the safety and efficacy of NKTR-181 in patients with chronic low back pain who were not treated with any opioid therapy and non-cancer pain. Two studies evaluating NKTR-181 for human abuse potential showed significantly less abuse potential compared with oxycodone.

Per the press release, low back pain is the second most common factor causing disability in adults in the United States.

However, Nektar is expected to face intense competition in the pain market with several companies developing therapies. Its competitors include Collegium Pharmaceutical, Inc.’s COLL Xtampza and Teva Pharmaceutical’s TEVA Naproxen.

Apart from NKTR-181, Nektar’s pipeline also has several early and late-stage candidates. The lead pipeline candidate, Onzeald is being evaluated in a phase III study for treating adults with advanced breast cancer with brain metastases. The company is developing NKTR-358 in phase I study for treating autoimmune disease and NKTR-214 in phase I/II study in solid tumors. Nektar has collaborated with Bristol-Myers BMY to develop NKTR-214 in combination with the latter’s immune-oncology drug, Opdivo, in more than 20 indications in nine tumor types.

Nektar currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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