Update on Pacira's Exparel

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Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (PCRX) released data supporting the use of Exparel infiltrated into the transversus abdominis plane (or iTAP) for postsurgical pain management.

Exparel is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (:FDA) for administration into the surgical site to produce post-surgical analgesia. The drug was launched in Apr 2012.

A recent independent study evaluated 90 patients receiving laparoscopic bariatric surgery, of which 45 were treated with multimodal therapy including an Exparel iTAP. The study showed that patients who received Exparel experienced a 60.7% reduction in opioid consumption and a higher return of bowel function in 48 hours.

Additionally, phase IV study TRANSCEND was also conducted by Pacira, evaluating Exparel in patients undergoing gynecologic or colorectal surgery. Patients received either Exparel or normal saline iTAP as part of a multimodal pain regimen. This trial was discontinued and the company decided to analyze the data collected on the 67 patients recruited.

In this analysis, the total opioid rescue continued to show no signal, while the Overall Benefit of Analgesia Score (OBAS) demonstrated an advantage for Exparel compared to the group treated with normal saline.

In the first nine months of 2013, net Exparel revenues were $45.6 million. At the end of Sep 2013, Exparel had a customer base of 1,732. Pacira reported an average of 23 new customers per week in the third quarter.

Pacira currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked players in the pharma industry include Actelion Ltd. (ALIOF), Endocyte Inc. (ECYT) and Forest Laboratories Inc. (FRX). All the three stocks carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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