Days after selling off its drug technology unit to Alkermes, Elan Corp is boosting its coffers again by granting rights for a pain drug in Canada to Paladin Labs.

The Montreal-headquartered specialty pharmaceutical company has been granted exclusive Canadian marketing and selling rights to Elan's controlled-release hydrocodone product in for the treatment for moderate to severe pain. Under the terms of the deal,  the Irish firm will get  undisclosed upfront and milestone payments and receive manufacturing fees and royalties.

The product, which incorporates Elan's SODAS technology, "offers a unique, controlled-release profile which utilises both immediate release and extended release properties designed to enable twice daily dosing", the firms say. They add that in the treatment of chronic pain, it should avoid "some of the serious side effects associated with the use of combination opioids that contain acetaminophen, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)".

The product is currently in two Phase III trials in the USA and is expected to be submitted for Health Canada approval in the second half of 2012. Paladin quoted IMS figures which state that the Canadian oral-extended release opioid market in 2010 exceeded 4 million prescriptions representing sales of more than $385 million. There is no single-entity, controlled-release formulation of hydrocodone in Canada, "presenting a significant unmet medical need".