"You have to go back a few years to get the whole story on Z160, formerly known as NMED160. Neuromed came to the agreement in 2006 to license this product to Merck (MRK) for NMED160. This deal was originally valued at 475 million dollars plus ongoing worldwide royalties. NMED160 targeted N-type calcium channel blockers for chronic pain. It was later de-prioritized in Phase II trials because of bioavailability issues and was released from Merck.
Neuromed and CombinatoRX (ZALICUS) merged in July of 2009. Z160 would be the first of its kind to be orally administered to block calcium pain receptors without an opioidal side effect. Very exciting advancements have been announced recently about Zalicus' new formulation of Z160 in its recent presentation. They have seemed to solve the bioavalibility issues in this new formulation by seeing a six-fold improvement in Phase I PK studies compared to the original Merck Formulation.
There have been no new drugs approved in decades for this type of pain problem. The only other type drug that has similar effects is directly injected in the spinal cord, therefore it limits its availability.
The market for this drug is well over 2 billion dollars and could change the pain industry as we know it. If you notice the second slide, this pain model shows the effects of Z160 compared to its competitors that rule the market: Morphine and Gabapentin. This data is extremely encouraging and shows the advancements that Zalicus has made over the past several months bringing Z160 closer to FDA approval."