Pfizer Won’t Tamper with Acura’s Aversion Technology; 3 of 4 Licenses Terminated

The results of a Friday announcement from Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) hit the markets this morning, in which Pfizer terminated licenses to three products developed in part by Acura Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ACUR). Licensing for three development-stage drugs  utilizing Acura’s abuse-resistant Aversion technology – Oxycodone hydrochloride with acetaminophen, hydrocodone bitartrate with acetaminophen, and an undisclosed opioid – were returned to the company after Friday’s close. Pfizer retained rights to a fourth Acura-developed safety product – Oxecta Tablets CII – and will continue to commercialize the product under the original licensing agreement.  The Aversion technology utilizes existing compounds and, without altering existing safety or efficacy, deters intravenous or nasal snorting abuse. In a statement Friday, Acura CEO Bob Jones said the company will be seeking a new strategic partner for the compounds in the coming months.

In the wake of the revenue and milestone losses for Acura, shares were down 50% by Friday evening but have since moved up slightly, opening 30% down from Friday’s close this morning.  Although the company retains these candidates in the pipeline, a new commercialization partner could be months away. Acura received $78.5 million in 2012 alone in reimbursements and milestone payments from Pfizer and expected significantly more over the development period for the three additional products. Acura previously announced that it would be holding an earnings conference call on August 8th, but moved the call forward to Tuesday at 8:30 am, no doubt to assuage the fears of current shareholders.