Kiwi Co. pops pill into US$20b pain-relief market

New Zealanders will find a home-grown answer to pain relief on the shelves at their local pharmacy this month with the launch of a new drug that represents a world breakthrough.

New Zealand-owned AFT Pharmaceuticals has commercialised a new pain relief tablet, Maxigesic®, which combines a unique combination of Paracetamol and Ibuprofen anti- inflammatory to relieve pain and reduce fever and inflammation.

Teaming these two active ingredients together, in this ratio produces double-action relief, which the pharmaceutical manufacturer says is a world-first in the oral analgesic (pain relief) market.

AFT founder Dr Hartley Atkinson says Maxigesic® was developed and tested in New Zealand, with clinical trials involving post-operative pain relief after wisdom teeth removal. Results showed Maxigesic was significantly more effective than Paracetamol alone for providing relief. However, it can also be used for a wide range of pain from headaches, migraines and dental pain through to post-surgery pain.

“The global market for analgesics is in excess of US $20 billion.

“This represents a huge opportunity for our New Zealand pharmaceutical company and the industry at large. We’ve proven that New Zealand has the capability to develop IP-based cutting- edge medical solutions,” says Dr Atkinson.

Maxigesic® will be exclusive to pharmacies where it is likely to find a ready market as it contains no codeine – an opiate drug found in a number of existing combination analgesic products which has attracted concern in New Zealand and Australia for its potential misuse.

Alan Merry, Professor of Anaesthesiology at The University of Auckland, was the principal investigator for Maxigesic® and says Paracetamol and Ibuprofen work well in combination.

“In the New Zealand clinical trial, involving 135 patients who were having their wisdom teeth removed, we found the combination of Paracetamol and Ibuprofen provided superior pain relief to patients than either agent on its own,” says Professor Merry.

Dr Atkinson says AFT Pharmaceuticals has made substantial plans to license Maxigesic® internationally and has engaged the strategic transaction advisory firm Ferghana Partners, which specialises in M&A transactions in the biotech/pharma field.

“We want to complete our aim to be the first New Zealand pharmaceutical company to develop a patented drug to market and license it globally.

“There is still a lot of work to be done to reach the huge global potential that Maxigesic® has. In the meantime, we expect that Maxigesic will sell very well in the local market as we have received so much positive feedback,” says Dr Atkinson.

AFT Pharmaceuticals turns over in excess of NZ$30 million with existing pharmaceutical business in New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia.

The Auckland-based company commercialised the allergic rhinitis (hayfever) product Maxiclear two years ago. Maxiclear is a breakthrough product for hayfever relief, combining a non-sedating antihistamine and a nasal decongestant in one tablet. Uniquely, it does not contain pseudoephedrine, which is used for illicit methamphetamine production.