NKTR: US Senate passes opioid bill

In a 99 - 1 vote, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan bill aimed at combating the opioid crisis. Among its more than 70 provisions is the STOP Act aimed at eliminating the flow of illegal drugs across the U.S. border (including synthetic opioids), an allowance for the FDA to require prescription opioids to be packaged in 3- or 7-day supply blister packs and incentives to develop a non-addictive painkiller.



I wonder if NKTR would benefit at all from these government incentives? They have already been granted fast track status for the NDA of 181 so this is soon to be out of the research phase.


Hard to say. I’ve kept a small position in NKTR primarily because of 181, I felt it would likely be a “blockbuster”. I was especially heartened when Nektar set up subsidiary as a marketing vehicle rather than use a licensing agreement as they had first indicated. Secondarily I felt it was a pretty good investment because they are not a one-trick pony, they have a robust pipeline and promising trials in their primary oncology research.

But, if you read the FDA approval for 181 it specifically states that the drug is approved only for those who have no history of opioid abuse, that will very much restrict the market I fear. Doctors often prescribe medications for off label use, but with all the legal scrutiny related to opioids it is unlikely that many doctors will take liberties with 181 (whatever the marketing name is).