Cipher Pharmaceuticals starts launch of new acne drug in U.S.

Mississauga-based drug developer Cipher Pharmaceuticals (TSX:DND) says its U.S. partner has begun selling and promoting  a new drug to treat severe acne.

Cipher said its partner, Indian drug giant Ranbaxy Labratories Inc., has begun to market Absorica, a so-called isotretinoin drug approved for sale in the United States earlier this year by the Food and Drug Administration.

“The launch of Absorica, our third commercial product, represents a major milestone for Cipher and we look forward to its successful introduction and growth in the U.S. market,” president and CEO Larry Andrews in a company statement.

Hopes are high for sales of Absorica because it is said to be more effective than current treatments and is more easily absorbed and gets around irregular teenage eating habits that have undermined the effectiveness of other types of isotretinoin products.

In getting FDA approval this past spring, Cipher got a $9 million milestone payment from Ranbaxy, roughly half of which was shared with another partner.

Under their deal, Cipher will manufacture Absorica and will also get royalties on net U.S. sales of Absorica, and is eligible for future milestone payments based on sales targets.

Cipher commercializes new formulations of drugs currently on the market and licences the products to international marketing partners.

The company’s first product is Lipofen, used to treat high cholesterol. Its second commercial drug is an extended-release painkiller called ConZip in the U.S. and Durela in Canada.

Last week the Tomken Road company received approval from Health Canada for another acne drug, Epuris, to be sold next year.

The new medication will be available by prescription for patients 12 years and older, who can take the treatment once or twice a day for five months.

The drug launch could create new employment opportunities in marketing and other parts of the drug industry.

Skin care has become a growing market for many Canadian drug makers — on both sides of the life cycle. The market for teen acne medicine is growing, but so is the market for other skin drugs.

According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, acne affects more than five million Canadians, with 80 per cent of those affected between the ages of 12 and 24.
Acne can also develop in adults, with 75 per cent of adult acne occurring in women. According to Cipher, drugs like Epuris and Accutane are the most commonly prescribed medication for severe acne and have an estimated market.

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