Watch out Johnson & Johnson, Bexson Biomedical is expanding its on-body ketamine delivery program to mental health conditions including treatment-resistant depression. Bexson originally began working with drug delivery partner Stevanato on pain programs but is now branching out.
The pain and mental health programs are all underpinned by a customized version of Stevanato’s EZ-be Pod, an on-body wearable device that enables subcutaneous self-injections. Bexson teamed up with Stevanato to use the device to deliver a ketamine formulation to treat chronic and acute pain in 2020 and has now extended the pact to cover mental health indications.
Expanding the pact moves Bexson on to turf occupied by J&J, which won FDA approval for a nasal spray of a ketamine-like drug molecule in treatment-resistant depression in 2019. While Bexson has ceded a head start to J&J, it thinks its subcutaneous approach to delivery has an edge over nasal administration.
As Bexson sees things, subcutaneous delivery overcomes the short half-life and low-bioavailability that affect oral and nasal administration of ketamine. Using Stevanato’s device, Bexson aims to enable the continuous or bolus delivery of highly bioavailable, therapeutically relevant doses of ketamine.
While the ketamine program is one of Bexson’s flagship projects, the company sees further uses for the drug delivery technology. The revised deal positions Bexson and Stevanato to assess new collaborations involving their device and drug platforms.
“We’re actually just scratching the surface of what is possible,” Jeffrey Becker, M.D., Bexson’s chief scientific officer, said in a statement. “Beyond pain management and mental health indications, this partnership enables a dynamic small molecule delivery system that can be applied to a surprisingly large number of important therapies.”