Opiant Pharmaceuticals Looks to Create a Heroin Vaccine and Treat Addictions - TheStreet

Opiant Pharmaceuticals Inc. (OPNT) is best known today for its Narcan Nasal Spray used to treat opioid overdoses. But CEO Roger Crystal hopes to make overdoses a thing of the past for most addicts by developing a vaccine that can end heroin dependence.

Only one in 10 addicts receive proper treatment today, according to a Surgeon General's report, and the Santa Monica, California-based company sees an immediate business opportunity and a lot of public benefit expanding its treatment franchise beyond opioids to alcohol and binge-eating addictions too.

But it also aims to one day provide vaccines that will cure addictions, Crystal told TheStreet in a recent interview. It has a particular focus on the U.S. opioid epidemic in which overdoses kill 91 people a day but sees opportunity to expand to an even larger populations with technology it is already using.

"We are the only company that has approaches to the three behaviors that are killing the most people in America: opioids, alcohol and food," said Crystal, 40, who is originally from Manchester, U.K. "We're here; we're for the now as well as committed to investing in the future."

In November 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Opiant's Narcan Nasal Spray to treat opioid overdose. The medication uses naloxone, an opioid antagonist, to bind to receptors in the brain, blocking opioid molecules from doing so and stopping an overdose. Using that same technology, Opiant is testing a spray using naltraxone, another opioid antagonist, to treat alcohol use disorder. Earlier this month, the company completed a phase I clinical trial of the drug, which showed the spray built a presence of naltrexone faster and three times greater than another intranasally dosed naltrexone formulation.