Nektar Squeezed as FDA Rejects Opioid Addiction-Fighting Drug

Nektar Therapeutics plunges after FDA committees say they won't be recommending the company's opioid addiction-fighting drug, oxycodegol, for approval.

Shares of Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) - Get Report got squeezed on Wednesday after the company announced that Food and Drug Administration committees won't be recommending its opioid addiction-fighting drug, oxycodegol.

Nektar Therapeutics was down  more than 11% at $24.76 in morning trading on Wednesday after the FDA’s Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee (AADPAC) and Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee (DSaRM) recommended not approving the drug.

In a statement, the company said it was “disappointed in the committees' vote regarding oxycodegol and believes it is also disappointing for patients suffering from chronic pain and the physicians that treat those patients who are currently relying on existing opioid therapies.”

Nektar Therapeutics created oxycodegol “specifically to both help these patients and physicians and address the opioid abuse epidemic," it said, noting it used "well-established efficacy, safety and human abuse potential study designs that have led to many prior FDA approvals of opioid medications." 

The announcement is another squeeze on Nektar, whose stock was hit last fall after Goldman Sachs double-downgraded the biopharma to sell from buy and slashed its one-year price target by nearly two-thirds on expectations its in-the-works cancer treatment won't generate revenue.

Goldman analyst Paul Choi downgraded the stock and slashed his price target to $16 from $54 at the time on what he noted were "execution missteps outweighing announcements of mostly positive clinical developments."

Among those missteps were manufacturing issues related to its bempegaldesleukin cancer drug as well as reduced confidence in the company's ability to execute on the drug's late-stage development.