Omeros Banks on First FDA Filing Next Year, Plans to “Unlock” Inaccessible Drug Targets

Xconomy Seattle — 

Seattle-based Omeros expects to apply for FDA clearance to start selling its first product by the second half of next year, and it also hoping to strike at least one partnership over the next couple of years with a bigger drugmaker, CEO Greg Demopulos said today in his first quarterly update running a public company.

Omeros (NASDAQ: OMER) is “on track” to finish enrollment next year of more than 1,000 patients in clinical trials of its lead anti-inflammatory drug candidate that’s supposed to help patients recover faster from arthroscopic knee surgery, Demopulos said on a conference call with analysts. Results from those pivotal studies should be available by the middle of 2010, and if the results are good, the company will ship off an application to the FDA to start marketing the product before the end of 2010, he said.

The clinical trial update was an important point for Omeros to make in the first week it has been legally allowed to make public statements since the 15-year-old company completed its initial public offering on October 7. Omeros raised about $62 million through the transaction, but its shares lost more than a third of their value in the first two weeks, earning it the dubious distinction of having the worst performing IPO of the year. Omeros has rebounded a bit since then, although its shares are still down 23 percent. Now the company is setting up expectations of events in the year ahead—like an FDA filing or a big corporate alliance—which could entice more investors to lift its stock out of the doldrums.

If the clinical trials go well, “we’ll have the first commercially available drug delivered directly to the surgical site to improve recovery” of knee surgery patients, Demopulos said.

The treatment, called OMS103HP, combines a couple of generic anti-inflammatory drugs into an injection designed to reduce post-operative swelling and speed up recovery time, Demopulos said. The clinical trials aren’t designed to see if the Omeros drug can wean patients off opioid-based pain relievers that circulate throughout the bloodstream, but it’s possible that could be one of the benefits, Demopulos said in response to a question from analyst Mark Monane of Needham & Company. Omeros is also looking at health economic analyses that might help justify the drug’s expense by showing how it speeds up recovery time, reducing rehab costs, and allows people to get back to work sooner than they otherwise would, Demopulos said.

While investors are certainly interested in the knee surgery drug candidate, Omeros has made plain that it isn’t putting all its eggs in that basket.

One key piece of the strategy is based on scientific work that it hopes will enable the company to hit a whole new class of targets on cells that have long been considered “undruggable.” This is the group … Next Page »

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