Omeros Medical Systems Signs Agreement For Chronic Pain Relief Therapy -- New Technology Helps Solve Problem Of Drug Tolerance Seen In Existing Therapies

SEATTLE, WA, Dec 18, 2001 (INTERNET WIRE via COMTEX) -- Omeros Medical Systems, Inc., has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) for an advanced pain management therapy jointly developed by Omeros and UCSF. This intrathecal analgesia technology, which uses an implanted pump to deliver drugs directly to the fluid surrounding the spinal cord to relieve chronic, debilitating pain, is designed to offer significant improvement in delaying the onset of drug tolerance - a prevalent problem in pain management. Because millions of Americans are affected by chronic pain, and this technology is expected to overcome a widespread pain relief obstacle, it is anticipated that it will quickly gain acceptance in the rapidly growing $500 million intrathecal drug therapy market.

"We have developed a proprietary technology that promises to more than double the duration of time before drug tolerance becomes a concern," explained Gregory A. Demopulos, M.D., Chairman and CEO of Omeros, a Seattle-based biotechnology company that develops novel therapeutics to preemptively inhibit inflammation, pain and other problems associated with surgical and medical procedures. "Drug tolerance is a condition where the body requires a higher drug dose to achieve the same pharmacological effect. Currently, tolerance forces clinicians to choose between maintaining a dosage that no longer produces the required pain relief, or administering increasingly higher doses that can create undesirable and dangerous side effects. Our technology was developed to allow physicians access to a longer lasting pain relief option for their chronic pain patients. This advance represents a significant improvement in safe and effective pain relief."

Intrathecal drug delivery systems administer drugs directly to the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. Intrathecal delivery of analgesic agents is used to treat chronic or severe pain conditions, such as cancer and degenerative spine disorders, since this route of delivery allows for the use of smaller drug doses resulting in fewer side effects than pills. For many patients suffering from these life-altering conditions, intrathecal analgesia is the last option for pain relief. The onset of tolerance for these patients often is a devastating occurrence.

"Drug tolerance is a critical problem in pain management" explained Pamela Palmer, M.D., Ph.D., co-developer of the technology and Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, UCSF and Director of UCSF's Pain Management Center. "In decades of treating patients with opioids, physicians have had to increase doses by 2-, 4- and sometimes up to 10-fold over a period of months to years. The potential for problems from such an increase is clear."

"This intrathecal technology solves the problem by fooling the body into delaying the onset of tolerance," she explained. "Preliminary animal studies demonstrate a dramatic extension in the time before tolerance occurs - more than twice as long compared with current intrathecal therapies. For patients with chronic pain, such an advance is expected to greatly reduce suffering and improve quality of life."

Under the agreement, Omeros owns and holds exclusive worldwide rights to develop and market the new intrathecal drug technology and agrees to pay UCSF a royalty on net sales.

Omeros Medical Systems, Inc., a venture-funded biotechnology company, is developing novel therapeutics that target receptors and enzymes to inhibit inflammation, pain and other problems associated with medical and surgical procedures. Omeros is advancing a pipeline of pharmaceutical and drug delivery products for use in orthopedics, urology, cardiovascular medicine and general surgery that provide preventive and restorative treatments directly to the site of tissue injury. With its proprietary platform technologies and streamlined approach to product development, Omeros is positioned to rapidly provide its innovative and clinically valuable products to healthcare professionals and patients around the world. Omeros is located at 1420 Fifth Ave., Suite 2675, Seattle, WA 98101, Phone: 206.623.4688, Fax: 206.264.7856, www.omeros.com


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