Nektar Therapeutics Inc. started clinical trials on a next-generation drug to manage moderate to severe pain and, potentially, prevent abuse of pain-cutting opioids.
NKTR-181, as the drug is known, follows another drug developed by San Francisco-based Nektar (NASDAQ: NKTR) that focuses on opioid-induced constipation. That drug, which Nektar licensed in September 2009 to AstraZeneca in a potential $1.5 billion deal, this month entered a 630-patient, Phase III trial.
Nektar’s Phase I trial with NKTR-181 will enroll up to 75 healthy subjects to determine the effective dose range for the drug with minimal central nervous system side effects. It will be completed in the second half of this year, Nektar said.