Yesterday, tiny drug-delivery expert DURECT (NASDAQ:DRRX) presented at the Merriman Curhan Ford (AMEX:MEM) investor conference. While many investors have never heard of DURECT, the drugmaker has a host of important milestones coming up over the next year, and it is worth following.

DURECT specializes in reformulating existing drugs into new or longer-lasting dosage forms. It has no compounds currently on the market, but has partnered directly or indirectly with several prominent mid-sized specialty pharmas like Endo Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ENDP) and King Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:KG).

DURECT's lead drug, Posidur, is an injectable longer-lasting version of a popular anesthetic used for post-surgical pain. The drug is partnered with European pharma Nycomed, with DURECT retaining U.S. rights to the compound.

In July, DURECT reported mostly positive phase 2 data for Posidur in a trial testing the drug's ability to help with pain following surgical hernia repair. The highest dose of the compound was successful on the co-primary endpoint of pain reduction and trended toward success on the other co-primary endpoint of reduction in post-surgery opioid use.

Since it was a relatively small phase 2 study, the failure on the latter primary endpoint is excusable. Posidur is set to begin phase 3 testing once a clinical trial protocol is finalized with the FDA.

The compound with the nearest-term potential to bring in recurring revenue to DURECT is its abuse-resistant opioid painkiller Remoxy, which DURECT partnered with Pain Therapeutics, and Pain Therapeutics then out-licensed to King Pharmaceuticals.

I've written here and here about Remoxy and the high likelihood that it will produce positive data in its ongoing phase 3 study. Pain and King expect to present the data from this pivotal study in the fourth quarter, with a possible marketing application filed next year.

If approved, DURECT stands to gain a solid 6% to 11.5% of cost-free royalties on all sales of Remoxy by King Pharmaceuticals. Considering the multibillion market for the drug, these royalties would be meaningful for a drugmaker the size of DURECT, and is why it is worth following.

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Fool contributor Brian Lawler owns shares of Pain Therapeutics, but no other company mentioned in this article. The Fool has an A+ disclosure policy.