MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2010 Business WWW.PHILLY.COM
Start-up is hoping for a
dose of success
By Christopher K. Hepp nose, and throat specialist that he maceuticals are developed and com-
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER walked away from the company he mercialized.”
cofounded—Take Care Health Avista Capital Partners L.P., a New
Peter Miller and Ramy A. Mahmoud Systems L.L.C.—to become chief York investment firm, has enough
have a shared definition of brilliant: executive officer of OptiNose US Inc., faith in the idea that it wagered $48.9
an idea so “blindly simple” that, as a Yardley start-up that hopes to man- million in June on OptiNose. The
Mahmoud puts it, one wonders why ufacture and sell the device once it money represents about 5 percent of
no one had thought of it before. has Food and Drug Administration the average cost of developing a new
Both readily hang the tag on a small approval. drug, according to Mahmoud. In this
plastic contraption that they say will Taken as well by the apparatus was instance, Miller said, OptiNose’s
revolutionize how a wide swath of Mahmoud, a physician who jumped spray-delivery system, using existing
medications are delivered to patients. from his job as chief medical officer drugs, could have the effect of a new
A nasal-spray dispenser powered for Ethicon Inc., a subsidiary of pharmaceutical at a fraction of the
by the user’s own breath, the device Johnson & Johnson, to become cost.
has the potential, its backers boast, of OptiNose’s chief operating officer. “We want to create value that is sus-
improving drug effectiveness, reduc- “We have a device that takes good tainable, that is real, for patients, for
ing dosages, and even ending injec- drugs and enables them to be deliv- doctors, for health-care payers,” he
tion of vaccines. ered into the body in a way that said. “We think this can do that.”
And, for investors, earning billions makes them not just a little better, but The object of Miller’s enthusiasm is
in sales. substantially better,” Miller said a rather straightforward product not
Miller said he believed enough in recently. “This has the potential to much bigger than a hummingbird.
this creation of a Norwegian ear, disrupt and transform the way phar- Imagine a spray dispenser with a
W W TOP VIEW
quickly absorb and move drugs into
ne t of the In the case of a typical spray dispenser,
part of the pla
astic airway that conneects nasal passages to the much of a drug dose is lost to the throat
Deliver y dispenser in the mouth lungs and throat. The air moves through and stomach, where its effects are
delayed or even undermined by the
while a nosepiece is the dispenser, dispersing the drug
System pressed into one nostril. throughout the nasal cavity. digestive process.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
www.philly.com THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER Monday, September 27, 2010
a large hollow behind the nose lined body by way of the nasal membranes.
with membranes that can quickly Vaccines are an example, Mahmoud
absorb and move drugs into the blood, said. Typically large, complex mole-
he said. cules, many vaccines are broken
In the case of a typical spray dis- down and destroyed if they enter the
penser, much of a drug dose is lost to body through the stomach. They must
the throat and stomach, where its be injected intravenously.
effects are delayed or even under- If vaccines can be safely and effi-
mined by the digestive process, ciently delivered by nasal spray,
Mahmoud said. patients could vaccinate themselves,
OptiNose’s initial clinical trials reducing costs and the medical waste
have shown the device can more that comes with using needles,
effectively deliver painkillers for Mahmoud said.
migraines, and steroids to treat nasal OptiNose is now conducting clinical
polyps. trials to win FDA approval to use the
“I’m very excited about it,” said device to deliver fluticasone, a
James Palmer, director of rhinology steroid used to treat polyps, and
at the Hospital of the University of sumatriptan, a migraine medication.
Pennsylvania, who treats patients The company, recently moved from
with nasal polyps. “It takes the same Norway, has all of 14 employees as it
dosage of steroids we have been using builds the infrastructure it needs to
for years and know are safe clinically support the future Miller envisions.
but don’t work as well as we like and “We plan to be on the market in
Peter Miller with the nasal spray device. puts those steroids really where we three to four years,” he said. “These
want them to go, so you can take the two products [fluticasone and suma-
small spout to blow through while a same doses and get a better effect.” triptan] alone have the sales potential
nosepiece is pressed into a nostril. Palmer has been advising the firm of $300 [million] to $400 million. I see
Blowing air through the mouth trig- and is considering a formal consult- us as eventually being a specialty-
gers the automatic closing of the air- ing arrangement with the firm, Frank pharmaceutical company with 500 to
way that connects the nasal passages Closurdo, OptiNose’s chief marketing 1,000 employees.”
to the lungs and throat, Mahmoud officer, said. Which he and Mahmoud agreed
said. Beyond polyps and migraines, the would be brilliant.
With the nasal passages sealed, device could provide a boost for any
spray material is more effectively number of drugs that could be more Contact staff writer Christopher K. Hepp at
dispersed throughout the nasal cavity, effective or convenient entering the 215-854-2208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted with permission from The Philadelphia Inquirer. Copyright © 2010. All rights reserved.
#1-28216518 Managed by The YGS Group, 717.505.9701. For more information visit www.theYGSgroup.com/reprints.