MannKind is in the early stages of developing an inhalable form of epinephrine, which could help it take market share from the injectable version. Currently, injectable epinephrine is at the center of a storm over drug pricing, according to the LA Times. Previously, the drugmaker tried to attract diabetics to inhale insulin instead of injecting it, but it is struggling to ramp up sales of its inhalable insulin Afrezza.
A promising drug
Now MannKind is targeting the emergency epinephrine market, which is dominated by Mylan Pharmaceuticals’ pricey EpiPen. EpiPen is getting increasingly expensive, and an inhalable form of epinephrine will not only compete with it but also offer a needle-free option to allergy sufferers, the report notes. According to Boston-based pediatric allergist Michael Pistiner, the medicine will especially appeal to children and their parents.
“Some people have been a little nervous about, for instance, giving a child an intramuscular injection. Finding alternative methods is something people have been very interested in,” Pistiner said.
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Epinephrine is used to fight life-threatening allergic reactions to food, insect bites and other allergens that are referred to as anaphylaxis. Using an EpiPen, aid givers can quickly inject epinephrine into the patient’s thigh, thus boosting low blood pressure and opening restricted airways.
MannKind seeking a financial partner
An inhalable version of the drug sounds promising, but getting the product approved and into the hands of patients is a big task for the company. It is running short on cash after its Afrezza inhaler, which took more than a decade to get onto the market, registered disappointing sales. Also its deep-pocketed founder passed away earlier this year.
MannKind CEO Matt Pfeffer is reportedly looking for a partner to help with the development of the inhalable epinephrine. Pfeffer said the company has no current plans of increasing its capital base, but as they move towards the human testing phase of the drug before introducing it to the market, the Valencia-based business will evaluate its capital requirements. Management has said that its requirements to increase capital solely depend on future sales of Afrezza.
MannKind is having a tough time in the stock market too with analysts advising selling its stock. The analysts believe it to be a failed venture with no serious profit generation sources in the near future. Year to date, the stock is down more than 51%, while in the last year, it is down more than 81%.
At 10:26 a.m. Eastern, MannKind shares were down 2.04% at $0.725.