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Apricus Misses Promised Drug Launch Target

Stocks in this article: APRI PFE LLY

SAN DIEGO ( TheStreet) -- Apricus Biosciences's (APRI) CEO Bassam Damaj, speaking to investors last Nov. 15, promised a marketing partner and commercial launch of the erectile dysfunction gel Vitaros before the end of 2011:

"I would like to start by confirming that we are still on our guidance for announcing our commercial partner for Vitaros in Canada and possibly Europe before the end of 2011," said Damaj. "I think this is an important statement that the company has given and important guidance that we stand behind and we are still moving forward towards achieving this goal."

On Friday, the last trading day of 2011, Apricus announced a Canadian licensing agreement, except it wasn't for Vitaros. Instead, Apricus inked a small partnership for an experimental toenail fungus therapy. Separately, Apricus announced its intention to sell another $20 million in common stock, further diluting shareholders.

Bait and switch.

In an email, Apricus spokesman Ed Cox said the company "will be publicly allowed to disclose on our new partner for Vitaros in Canada in the coming few days." It's not like Apricus hasn't had sufficient time to get a deal done. Canadian regulators approved Vitaros in November 2010, at which time Apricus promised to take on entrenched ED pill marketers like Pfizer (PFE) and Eli Lilly (LLY). Thirteen months and multiple promises later, Apricus still hasn't sold a single vial of the ED treatment.

One quarter of men who used Vitaros in clinical trials complained of "penile burning" caused by applying the gel to the tip of their penis before sex, according to the Vitaros label approved by Health Canada. Vitaros also causes "vaginal burning" when the gel rubs off during sex.

Nothing says "sexy time" like penile burning.

-- Written by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.

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Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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