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Nektar Therapeutics Gains on Trial of New Painkiller

Nektar Therapeutics rose the most in 11 months after a study of its new slow-release painkiller showed it may not lead to abuse of the drug.

Nektar rose 12 percent to $10.95 at the close in New York, its largest single-day increase since July 16. The San Francisco-based company gained 36 percent in the past 12 months.

Nektar is developing NKTR-181 as an abuse-resistant alternative to opioids for chronic pain such as Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin and Endo Health Solutions Inc.’s Opana in a $1.5 billion market. The drug’s slow rate of entry into the brain is designed to reduce the feelings of euphoria that can lead to abuse or addiction, the company said today in a statement.

“These data suggest that NKTR-181 could change the way we think about opioids and how we treat patients with chronic pain,” said Robert Medve, Nektar’s chief medical officer.

The 42-patient clinical trial showed patients given Nektar’s experimental medicine reported similar feelings of “drug liking” and “feeling high” as those given a placebo and had less of a response compared with oxycodone at all doses, the company said in its statement.

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