Arcion shareholders will own 64% of the new entity.

Anesiva and Arcion Therapeutics inked a definitive merger agreement, which will result in a company with a focus on pain treatment. Arcion concentrates on topical solutions for neuropathic pain and has one clinical candidate. Anesiva is studying one compound in a number of postsurgical settings and other indications.

The combined firm will be called Arcion Therapeutics, and the transaction is expected to close within the next month or so. Upon closing of the merger Arcion and Anesiva shareholders will own approximately 64% and 36%, respectively.

The lead clinical candidate for the new entity will be Anesiva’s Adlea™ for post-operative pain, which completed two Phase III trials last year. Additionally, Arcion’s ARC-4558 is currently in Phase IIb for painful diabetic neuropathy, and data is expected in the first half of next year.

“There is a tremendous need to create drugs that treat pain where the pain signal originates, and we believe that our targeted treatments will address the shortcomings of current therapies, including addiction, systemic side effects, insufficient efficacy, and frequent or inconvenient dosing,” says James Campbell, M.D., CEO of Arcion.

ARC-4558 targets peripheral a2 adrenoreceptors to relieve pain caused by damaged nerves in the skin, and Adlea is a small molecule formulation of capsaicin. In December 2008 Anesiva reported that Adlea achieved the primary efficacy endpoint in a Phase III trial, i.e., the drug reduced postsurgical pain versus placebo following total knee arthroplasty at 4 to 48 hours after surgery. The trial also met its key secondary endpoint, demonstrating a highly significant reduction in opioid-medication consumption compared to placebo.

Adlea is also in late-stage trials for pain following a bunionectomy and Phase II studies in total hip replacement and arthroscopic shoulder. Additionally it is in mid-stage trials related to osteoarthritis pain and Phase I for tendonitis and interdigital neuroma. Finally, ARC-2022 from Arcion is a topical drug for postherpetic neuralgia, which is currently in late-stage preclinical development.

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