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Catalent signs deal to manufacture drug to combat opioid addiction

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Catalent Pharma Solutions, a Somerset-based provider of technology and development solutions for drugs, biologics and consumer health products, has entered into an agreement with US WorldMeds to manufacture Lofexidine, a drug used to help treat opioid withdrawal.

Under the terms of the agreement, US WorldMeds will commercialize Lofexidine in the U.S., where it is currently still in the experimental stage. The drug already is being used in the U.K. under the brand name Britlofex.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently fast-tracked the drug for approval, as the opioid crisis worsens in the U.S. New Jersey has been one of the hardest hit states. In 2014, The state had 265 emergency room visits for opioids among men per 100,000 residents, and 166.1 per 100,000 for women, the sixth highest in the nation, according to data gathered by the Agency for Healthcare Research

The problem has worsened to the point where Gov. Chris Christie declared the opioid epidemic a public health crisis, and tried to use Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield’s health insurance reserve to pay for additional treatments for state residents addicted to opioids. State health care experts have warned that the best solution to the crisis may be to stop prescribing opioid-based pain killers altogether.

Jonathan Arnold, Catalent’s vice president and general manager, said in an announcement that the purpose of the drug is to assist patients to end the cycle of opioid addiction by easing withdrawal symptoms.

“Symptoms of opioid withdrawal can be a significant barrier in seeking help and breaking the cycle of dependence.

“We are excited to join forces with US WorldMeds to bring a potential new treatment option to a major health issue spanning the nation," he said.

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