Iowa Patent of the Month – February 2022

KemPharm, Inc. is a clinical-stage specialty pharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery and development of proprietary prodrugs. Prodrugs are molecules with little to no pharmacological activity which can be converted to an active compound in vivo. KemPharm works to use thes prodrugs to enhance bioavailability, duration of action, safety, and a reduced susceptibility to abuse.

Dextrorphan is a psychoactive drug used to treat coughs caused by flus and colds. This drug is part of the morphinan class and can be abused, as any opioid can. All pharmaceuticals containing an opioid are formulated to be as abuse-resistant as possible. KemPharm has entered dextrorphan into their pipeline, combining conjugates of the compound with oxoacids. These combinations reduce the possibility of abuse by making it essential for the active dextrorphan to be released only through enzymatic breakdown in vivo. This means the drug will not become active by shooting or snorting. 

Their formulation continues to effectively treat side effects like coughs. The oxoacid contributes to a slow, sustained, and controlled release of the active drug as enzymes break down the compound and remove the oxoacid from the dextrorphan. Since these enzymes are present in the stomach, it can only be achieved by oral administration. This means other methods of taking the drug will provide none of the euphoric effects of an opioid.

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