In an unexpected development, San Diego’s Novalar Pharmaceuticals says today it has sold OraVerse, its dental anesthesia reversal agent and only FDA-approved product, to Lancaster, PA-based Septodont, a leading supplier of dental anesthetics.
The big question arising from the sale is what’s next for Novalar? OraVerse has been the main focus of the company’s business activities since Domain Associates partner Eckard Weber got the idea while talking about the lingering effects of dental anesthetics during a dental exam. Weber, an M.D., pharmacologist, and venture capitalist, founded Novalar in 2000. He recruited CEO Donna Janson from Europe to run the company.
In a statement from the companies, Septodont will pay Novalar and its investors an upfront payment for OraVerse, and will pay milestones and royalties on product sales. No specific numbers were disclosed.
At one time, Novalar was talking about creating a $300 million to $400 million market for Oraverse in the United States. But at this time last year, it was clear that OraVerse sales were slower than Novalar had planned. Septodont, a 75-year-old company that provides anesthetics for 500 million injections a year around the world, can take advantage of its well-established sales and distribution network in North America and international markets where Novalar has no partnerships. Novalar signed an exclusive license and distribution deal in Germany for OraVerse with Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland GmbH.
Novalar has raised at least $43 million in venture capital. Its investors include Boston Millennia Partners, Domain Associates, Genevest, Montreux Equity Partners, New Enterprise Associates, SR One, and Sears Capital Management.
So what’s next for Novalar?
The company’s website describes another dental product in its pipeline. Novalar licensed the patent rights for a novel endodontic therapy (designated NV-201) in 2007 for a polymer fiber that delivers an antibiotic directly into the root canal. With 17 million root canal procedures performed in the United States, Novalar sees an opportunity in developing a new technique for using clindamycin, a common dental antibiotic, to keep bacteria at bay between root canal visits.
The company adds that it is continually “searching for new dental technologies to license to bolster our product pipeline.”