Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Heron Therapeutics (HRTX) Helps Chemo Patients Prevent Vomiting with SUSTOL®

Cancer is the great scourge of our age. This year, 1.7 million Americans will find out they have the disease and some 600,000 will die from it. In total, approximately 40 percent of the population can expect to be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. The name “cancer” is derived from the Greek word for crab and may have been bestowed to indicate the tenacity of the disorder. Cancer tends to persist with the same relentlessness as the claws of a crab cling to a victim.

Yet despite its stubbornness, cancer treatments like chemotherapy have reduced fatalities. Cancer is a formidable foe, however, and the fight against it often leads to a Pyrrhic victory. Patients are left seriously debilitated. Now, SUSTOL® (granisetron) from Heron Therapeutics (NASDAQ: HRTX) is available to provide extended relief to chemo patients suffering from Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting (CINV).

About four million people worldwide receive chemotherapy, making it the most common treatment for cancer, but chemo comes with a number of pernicious side effects, one of which is CINV. Cancer patients identified CINV as the side effect of chemo they most wanted to avoid, ahead of depression, constipation, fatigue, diarrhea and sexual dysfunction. The abhorrence to CINV is thought to be the main reason leading to premature discontinuation of remedial chemo regimens.

Chemotherapy agents that give rise to the most intolerable bouts of nausea and vomiting are grouped as either Moderately Emetogenic Chemotherapy (MEC) or Highly Emetogenic Chemotherapy (HEC). About 30-90 percent of patients undergoing MEC treatments and more than 90 percent of those undergoing HEC ones experience vomiting without preventative treatment. Overall, some 70-80 percent of chemo patients experience CINV. These numbers show promising market potential for SUSTOL®.

SUSTOL® was launched in October and is the first and only approved
5-HT3 receptor antagonist offering an extended-release effect and five days of
CINV prevention for MEC and HEC regimens. The 5-HT3 receptor system regulates the body’s emetic (nausea and vomiting) responses. SUSTOL® has two important advantages over the market leader, Aloxi. First, it offers a true extended five-day release, as opposed to Aloxi, which drops off after three to four days, a period considered too short for most MEC and HEC regimens. Second, it has a higher profitability potential for oncologists. Over the past three and a half years, Aloxi has had unit sales in the U.S. of between 600,000-700,000 vials per quarter. Aegis Capital (http://dtn.fm/f2EEv), in a recent report, opines that ‘SUSTOL® represents at least a $300 million opportunity over the next five years’.

There’s more to Heron than SUSTOL®, however. The company’s present pipeline includes HTX-011 and HTX-019. HTX-011 is being tested for post-op pain in nerve block and post-op pain in local administration. HTX-019 is being evaluated for the treatment of CINV.

SUSTOL® and HTX-011 utilize Heron’s proprietary Biochronomer® drug delivery technology, which can deliver therapeutic levels of otherwise short-acting pharmacological agents over a period of days to weeks with a single subcutaneous injection. The Biochronomer® technology consists of bio-erodible polymers, which comprehensive animal and human toxicology studies have established to be safe and well tolerated. When injected into subcutaneous tissue, the polymers undergo controlled hydrolysis, resulting in a controlled, sustained release of the pharmacological agent encapsulated within the Biochronomer-based composition.

Aegis has set a ‘Buy’ rating and a price target of $41.00 on Heron stock, which is currently trading on the NASDAQ under the symbol HRTX at around $15.50.

For more information, please visit www.herontx.com

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