A Pittsburgh-based life sciences company has acquired Fathom Pharma, a Hershey-area startup focused on developing safer pain medications.
- As a result of the deal, Fathom is now a subsidiary of Consegna Pharma. Other terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
- Together, the two companies hope to develop innovative products that treat overdoses, addiction and pain.
- They rely on advances in what are called long-acting injectables, or LAIs, medications that are slowly released into the body. The goal is to make the medications safer and more effective.
- Fathom is developing long-acting pain medications, while Consegna’s pipeline includes a long-acting form of Naloxone, the drug that reverses overdoses.
- Consegna’s version could prevent secondary overdoses caused by synthetic opioids like fentanyl, said Consegna president and CEO Larry Zana. Conventional Naloxone can wear off before the fentanyl does.
How does it work: Consegna essentially wraps existing medicine in a polymer that slowly degrades.
The challenge lies in figuring out which polymers work best with which drugs — and ultimately how they will work inside a person.
- Consegna uses artificial intelligence to assess the combinations, said Zana, an electrical engineer who founded the company in 2017. Consegna is Italian for delivery.
- Some of its funding comes from the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, a cousin of the Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central Pennsylvania.
What’s Fathom Pharma: Founded in 2019 and based at the Hershey Center for Applied Research in Derry Township, the company is developing long-acting opioid medications.
- Its lead product, which is not yet in clinical trials with people, is being tailored to combat pain in terminally ill patients
- “The hope is that the long-acting version is less addictive than the current standard of care,” Zana said.
What’s next: Consegna hopes to bring its Naloxone product to market in two or three years, said Zana.
Because Naloxone is already approved for use, the company can follow an expedited process with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Zana said.
- The combined companies, which employ six people overall, expect to hire as their research progresses.
- “Across the globe, LAIs are changing the way medicines are delivered in key therapeutic areas and we are excited to help accelerate this transition,” Fathom Pharma CEO Darren Wolfe said in a statement.
The bottom line: The opioid crisis has spurred entrepreneurs around the U.S. to develop safer pain medicine, as well as products to combat addiction and overdoses.