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Nektar Shares Boosted by Promising Results on Opioid Addiction Study

Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) Tuesday morning released results from a new study showing its candidate to treat chronic pain carries significantly less abuse potential than oxycodone.

Nektar shares were up 4.78%, or 99 cents, to $21.65 in pre-market trading Tuesday, July 18.

Nektar, which released results from a Phase 3 study in March that showed the drug met its endpoints in the treatment of chronic pain, announced positive topline results from an oral Human Abuse Potential (HAP) study of NKTR-181.

NKTR-181 is the first full mu-opioid agonist molecule designed to provide potent pain relief without the high levels of euphoria that can lead to abuse and addiction with standard opioids.

In an interview, Nektar's chief science officer, Steve Doberstein, said that unlike other recent efforts to make opioids less susceptible to abuse, NKTR-181 was designed to offer less euphoria than other painkillers on the market. Efforts to make existing painkillers less likely to be abused have focused on making the drugs harder to snort or inject but little can be done to make the molecules themselves less likely to cause an addictive high.

NKTR-181 relies on its inherent molecular properties to get into the brain...