Pacira Pharmaceuticals is set to buy Myoscience and its cryoneurolysis pain device for $120 million upfront and up to $100 million in milestones.
Myoscience’s business is centered on iovera, a handheld device that cools nerves to low temperatures to temporarily stop the transmission of pain signals.
The deal moves Pacira, which makes pain drug Exparel, into the device market as it seeks to build a portfolio of products capable of reducing or eliminating the need for opioids.
The pressing need to find alternatives to opioids is driving companies to rethink the management of pain. In the case of Pacira, that reevaluation has led it to look beyond its traditional focus on the specialty pharmaceutical sector in search of products that can complement its existing non-opioid product portfolio.
Pacira’s search led it to Myoscience, a Fremont, California-based device business. Myoscience is the developer of FDA-cleared pain device iovera. The device uses needles to lower the temperature under part of the skin to the point that nerves cease sending pain signals.
In a 180-patient clinical trial, iovera reduced pain by more than a placebo over the 90 days following treatment. Patients who were still responding to iovera after 120 days continued to experience the effects through day 150.
The efficacy seen in that trial and other assessments has encouraged physicians to use iovera on more than 20,000 patients since FDA cleared the original version of the device in 2014. The current 510(k) clears iovera for use in surgical procedures and for the relief of pain and symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.
Pacira will promote iovera alongside Exparel, a liposomal formulation of bupivacaine designed to provide longer-lasting pain than is achieved by generic bupivacaine.
The company will face competition on multiple fronts as it tries to persuade physicians to opt for its portfolio of pain products. Heron Therapeutics is developing a bupivacaine-meloxicam that beat bupivacaine alone in a clinical trial last year. In the device space, Avanos Medical this week linked its cooled radiofrequency Coolief product to statistically-significant reductions in knee pain at six months. Additionally, neurostimulators have received increased attention from the medical community as an opioid-free pain therapy option.