AcelRx Pharmaceuticals Stock Forecast: Specialty pharmaceutical companies tend to focus on specific conditions. Specializing often means that they can produce several drugs that leverage a similar mechanism in the body and bring those substances to market for slightly different indications. If they get it right, their singular focus tends to mean good things for their profits and by extension, their shareholders.
However, it really is a “putting all of your eggs in one basket” kind of thing. If they get it wrong, the company could have spent millions on researching and developing a product that they cannot bring to market. Further, the company needs to be able to do more than create a drug that works.
They also need to market it to physicians and patients, get buy-in from the medical community, and ultimately entice insurance companies to cover it – or be smart enough to hire another company to do the marketing for them.
Before you invest in a specialty pharmaceutical company, do your research on the type of drugs they intend to develop and decide whether you think the company can see it through.
AcelRx Pharmaceuticals Solves Pain Management
AcelRx Pharmaceuticals [NASDAQ: ACRX] is one of these specialty drug companies. It deals in pain management.
AcelRx developed Sufentanil. This is an opioid analgesic that is 5-10 times more effective than fentanyl and it has important benefits over opioids.
For one, it does not have active metabolites. This helps reduce the risk of the delayed side effects that sometimes happens with opioids, like morphine accumulating in patients with weak systems, especially renal impairment. Sufentanil is also highly lipophilic.
This means that it is readily absorbed by the body. Finally, it is classed as “highly therapeutic.” So, the effective dose of the drug is drastically lower from the lethal dose, and it reduces (or practically eliminates) the risk of overdose. Sufentanil is used mostly in IV and anesthia applications.
AcelRx has two primary drugs on the market.
It takes about five minutes for the drug to dissolve. During that time, it minimizes the production of saliva in the mouth so that the drug can be absorbed readily where it sits as opposed to passing through the patient’s digestive system first, which delays the onset of relief.
The drug begins to work in just 15 minutes. DSUVIA is used to treat severe pain in a setting where the patient has medical supervision.
DSUVIA received FDA approval in November 2018 and EU approval in June 2018. (The drug is called DZUVEO in the EU).
AcelRx is also developing a drug called Zalviso. It received approval in the EU (back in 2015), but it is still waiting on a nod from the FDA. The FDA provided feedback on the drug’s Phase 3 trials so AcelRx is working on a fourth study to examine the performance of the drug.
Like DSUVIA, ZALVISO can only be given to a patient by a physician and only in a managed setting, like a hospital. However, unlike DSUVIA, the patient can self-administer the drug using a special delivery system.
It is generally used to help patients manage pain while in the hospital, usually recovering from surgery.
Research suggests that post-surgical pain relief is lacking for many patients. – as many as 75%. ZALVISO is preprogrammed to deliver a small amount of Sufentanil. It is noninvasive and convenient.
Patients receive a hand-held device. It is also non-invasive, so it doesn’t have the same risks as an IV-based pain management solution (e.g., infection).
Is AcelRx Pharmaceuticals a Buy?
AcelRx works in a very niche part of pain management, but its Sufentanil does appear to be much safer than many other opioid-based pain management options.
The therapeutic index of the substance is 26,716 compared to the 277 of Fentanyl, 71 of Morphine, and 12 of Methadone. This is a major consideration. The administration of the drug is safe too. It is highly controlled, in either formulation.
Plus, it is effective. The efficacy of the product is very well-established and the potential market for the drug is huge. Many people struggle with proper pain management, even while under a doctor’s care in a supervised setting. Sufentanil could be the answer.
Sufentanil is also fast acting and non-invasive. Its sublingual delivery system makes it easy to deliver. This helps the drug avoid the complications that can come with IV-based drugs or even pump as well as provide the patient with greater mobility, which can help with certain types of recovery.
Risks of Buying AcelRx Pharmaceuticals?
The efficacy of Sufentanil is well-established and it is very safe (comparatively) but the product does not have a long history. It has been on the market for less than a year in some locations. Getting buy-in from physicians, hospitals, and insurance companies is going to be somewhat of a challenge.
This is a very novel drug and it will take some convincing. That may happen, but it will take time – time that AcelRx will have to continue to market the product and potentially not receive profitable income.
Further, it is not as if the drug is without side effects. One of the most common side effects is nausea and vomiting.
Plus, as effective as the drug has been shown to be, device error can still be an issue and the sublingual tablets could be misplaced – this was what the FDA wanted AcelRx to study.
AcelRx found that training reduces the chance of misplacement as well as nurse inspection, but difficulties surrounding drug accountability could become problematic.
AcelRx Pharmaceuticals Stock Forecast Summary
Right now, AcelRx’s success is tied to DSUVIA. The company has to market the drug effectively, get buy-in from physicians and insurance companies, and distribute the product. It could fail or under perform in any of these activities and risk its future viability as a company.
AcelRx could also simply become an “also-ran” if alternatives have better reception in the medical community – or it could be a hit.
If AcelRx can overcome public fears about such a potent drug, it could have a real success on its hands. Before you buy AcelRx stock, do your research and see what you think of Sufentanil and the future of pain management.
The author has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Financhill has a disclosure policy. This post may contain affiliate links or links from our sponsors.