Flexion CEO talks about the potential of its new non-opioid drug

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Flexion Therapeutics’ new non-opioid drug has been approved to treat knee pain, but the company will also likely explore any potential it could have for other areas of the body, its CEO told CNBC on Monday.

On Friday, shares of Flexion soared more than 10 percent after the Food and Drug Administration approved its injectable drug Zilretta to treat osteoarthritis-related knee pain. The stock gave back about half of those gains on Monday.

“We are not going to solve the opioid crisis with Zilretta but we think that we have real potential to make a meaningful difference for those osteoarthritis patients who might otherwise be prescribed opioids,” CEO Dr. Mike Clayman said in an interview with “Power Lunch.”

Approximately 70 percent of osteoarthritis patients who are taking prescription medications are taking opioids, he noted.

When asked if the company would look to other applications for the drug, like back pain, Clayman said, “We’re absolutely thinking about it and it’s something that we would explore in rigorous clinical trials.”

However, he cautioned that no one use the medication for anything else until it is properly studied.

The FDA approval for knee pain comes at a time when U.S. federal authorities are implementing a slew of measures to combat opioid abuse, with President Donald Trump in August declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency.

Clayman touted the long-lasting effects of Zilretta, which can relieve pain for up three months per injection. That’s because it is formulated to work slowly, compared with currently available steroids that leave the joints rapidly, he said.

In a note to clients, Wells Fargo analyst David Maris said the drug “has the potential to be a gamechanger in osteoarthritis knee pain treatment.”

— Reuters contributed to this report.

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Natalia Camp

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