Based on its recent analysis of the osteoporosis therapeutics market, Frost & Sullivan presents Merrion Pharmaceuticals (IEX:MERR) with the 2008 North American Frost & Sullivan Award for Osteoporosis Technology Innovation of the Year, in recognition of the company's successful application of its innovative gastrointestinal permeation enhancement technology (GIPET®) that creates an improved version of alendronate, MER-103 (Almerol™).
This innovative and novel technology has resulted in MER-103 (Almerol™), yielding such benefits as increased bioavailability, safety, and convenience, as compared to that of the currently marketed osteoporosis drug, Fosamax (alendronate).
Osteoporosis is the most prevalent bone disease in the United States, with an estimated 11.2 million Americans affected and an additional 46.4 million Americans having osteopenia or low bone mass. This group is at an increased risk of fractures, particularly of the hip, spine, and wrist, and the importance of new treatment options becomes more apparent. The active ingredient found in Fosamax, the U.S.'s top selling medication for osteoporosis in 2008, is alendronate. This popular bisphosphonate works by reducing the activity of osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone, and has proven effective at reducing the incidence of hip and spine fractures and improving bone mineral density.
“The currently available form of alendronate has poor bioavailability and is associated with unpleasant side effects, including esophageal and stomach irritation,” explains Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Katheryn Symank. “Moreover, to increase bioavailability and to minimize gastrointestinal side effects, patients are faced with a complicated dosing regimen, which has resulted in poor patient compliance.”
The recommended dosage for the currently marketed drug, alendronate, is one pill taken with a full glass of water 30 minutes to one hour before any food intake. In addition, the patient is advised not to lie down for at least 30 minutes after taking their medication.
Merrion's GIPET® technology has enabled a novel formulation of alendronate MER-103 (Almerol™). With GIPET® technology, medications that are not well absorbed can be evolved to yield improved performance in characteristics such as bioavailability, drug efficacy, and safety. Not only does this allow for less of the active ingredient to be used to achieve the same therapeutic benefit, but it also can allow for more convenient dosing schedules. Moreover, the use of this technology does not require any chemical modification to the active ingredient.
“An oral version of alendronate, MER-103 (Almerol™) has an increase in bioavailability of 15-fold when taken at night, or 12-fold when taken after an overnight fast,” adds Symank. “This improvement allows for less alendronate to be used in the medication. For example, it estimated that 6mg of MER-103 (Almerol™) is equivalent to a 70 mg dose of oral alendronate's currently marketed formulation.”
In recognition of MER-103 (Almerol™)'s drug benefits – including improved bioavailability, a more attractive safety profile, and a simplified dosing regimen compared to that of the currently marketed formulation – that are important in improving drug development in the osteoporosis area, Frost & Sullivan is proud to present the 2008 Osteoporosis Technology Innovation of the Year Award to Merrion Pharmaceuticals.
Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that has demonstrated technological innovation within its industry. The award recognizes the ability of the company to successfully develop and introduce new/disruptive technology, formulate a well-designed product family, and make significant technology contributions to the industry.
Frost & Sullivan's Best Practices Awards recognize companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis, and extensive secondary research in order to identify best practices in the industry.
About Merrion Pharmaceutical
Merrion Pharmaceuticals (merrionpharma.com) is a publicly listed specialty pharmaceutical company engaged in the development of oral forms (tablets/capsules) of drugs that have poor absorption and are generally given by injection. Merrion was established in 2004 to commercialise various technologies acquired from Elan Corporation, plc. Merrion's patented drug delivery technologies increase bioavailability, by improving absorption in the gastrointestinal tract, of drugs that are otherwise poorly absorbed. This can provide substantial benefit in patient convenience and safety, and might also provide enhanced drug efficacy. Merrion utilises its technology to develop new oral drugs in two ways; it develops its own proprietary drugs using GIPET® and partners with other pharmaceutical companies in developing oral GIPET® formulations of their products.
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Wally Young, Young Communications
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