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Mission Pharmacal ventures into medicinal patch market
June 23, 2015

Patches are not as widely used as pills or liquids, but have become another option for pharmaceutical companies to supply medicine (Photo: Tribune News Service File Photo)

By Peggy O'Hare, San Antonio Express-News

With its recent acquisition of a company that develops therapeutic patches, San Antonio drugmaker Mission Pharmacal sees potential to market medications that patients can wear rather than swallow.

Those might be new medications or a new way of taking tried-and-true drugs that traditionally have been contained in pills and tablets, company officials said.

The purchase of ProSolus Pharmaceuticals LP, based in Miami, could diversify Mission Pharmacal's arsenal of health care products. The San Antonio company is working with ProSolus to develop three medications that will be generic versions of established brand-name prescription patches no longer protected by patents, said Pete Valko, chief operating officer of Mission Pharmacal's generic drug marketer, BioComp Pharma.

Because of the competitive nature of the generic drug market, Valko declined to elaborate on the products being developed or what ailments they will treat.

The acquisition also could open the door for even more generic drugs to be dispensed through patches worn on the skin.

Mission Pharmacal has its eye on the market for generic medication patches for several reasons. One is that 84 percent of prescriptions dispensed in the United States in 2012 were generics, Valko said. The other is that far fewer companies are capable of making medication patches compared to the more common formats of tablets, capsules, liquids and creams - which could give Mission Pharmacal a stronger foothold in the drug market.

"There are a handful that have done it, but that pales in comparison to the number of companies that can do tablets and other delivery forms," said Valko, who also will serve as chief operating officer of ProSolus Inc.

Mission Pharmacal and ProSolus rolled out one medicinal patch to consumers late last year - the LidoFlex Pain Relief Patch, which they developed with Richmar Corp. LidoFlex, which contains a 4 percent concentration of lidocaine, the highest available dose without a prescription, can be worn for up to 12 hours by patients even while exercising, bathing or swimming.

That was Mission Pharmacal's first foray into patch territory. Now the drugmaker is thinking of more possibilities, noting transdermal products might help patients comply with the regimens prescribed by their physicians, such as consumers who have trouble swallowing pills.

Patches are not as widely used as pills or liquids, but have become another option for pharmaceutical companies to supply medicine, "whether it be systemic, which would be throughout the body, or a localized delivery of a drug," Valko said.

"It really comes down to whether a molecule or a chemical is a candidate for delivery through the skin," he said.

ProSolus has improved medication patches, making them smaller and easier to wear while patients are working or active.

"This design strength, combined with state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities, gives us vast potential to quickly deliver patient-friendly transdermal solutions," Terry Herring, Mission Pharmacal's president of commercial operations, said in a prepared statement.

The move also could open new doors for other companies interested in partnering to develop medicinal patches.

ProSolus, which formed in 2009, has about a dozen employes at its research and manufacturing facilities in Miami. Those employees are expected to remain on the ground there, where the company will continue operating as a wholly owned subsidiary of Mission Pharmacal. ProSolus' facilities are capable of handling more than 50 million medicinal patches, according to the company's website.

Terms of the acquisition, which took effect May 29, were not disclosed.

San Antonio pharmacist David Worsham, the owner of Broadway Pharmacy, which carries Mission Pharmacal products, said he believes the new venture will be a good move for the drugmaker.

"I think they do their due diligence in checking out the products before they put their name with it," Worsham said. "They do their research really well."

He pointed to the company's sale of marketing rights for calcium supplement Citrical, which it continues to produce, to Bayer HealthCare in 2007. "I think that's been a win-win situation," Worsham said. "And I think this will be, too."

 

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