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What: Shares of Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, shot higher by as much as 11% after reporting positive top-line results for experimental drug NKTR-181 to treat chronic pain.
So what: NKTR-181, an opioid designed to enter the brain slowly so as to significantly lower the chances of addiction associated with most pain medications, showed significant statistical significance from oxycodone, a widely abused pain medication, in a human abuse liability study. In the study, patients didn't have nearly the same desire to abuse NKTR-181 as demonstrated by its lower "drug liking" and "feeling high" scores relative to oxycodone.
Now what: Obviously, the treatment of moderate-to-severe chronic pain is a big market. Unfortunately, the Food and Drug Administration has kept a very tight watch over new drug entrants because of the high propensity for abuse of these medications. If NKTR-181 can continue to show that its slower release reduces the want to abuse the drug while delivering a non-inferior benefit in terms of pain management, then it could certainly put Nektar on the map. For now, though, I'd consider adding Nektar to your personal watchlist.
Craving more input? Start by adding Nektar Therapeutics to your free and personalized watchlist so you can keep up on the latest news with the company.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly compared the pain-managing benefits of NKTR-181 to placebo. The Fool regrets the error.
Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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