“We’re Financially Prudent,” Says CFO and President of Knight Therapeutics Samira Sakhia

- May 17th, 2018

At the Bloom Burton & Co. Healthcare Investment Conference held in Toronto from May 2-3, the Investing News Network had the opportunity to speak with the company about its recent announcements and future outlook.

A Health Canada approval, an exclusive license agreement, and positive 2017 financial results are just some highlights from Knight Therapeutics (TSX:GUD) has had in the past couple of months.

At the Bloom Burton & Co. Healthcare Investor Conference in Toronto from May 2-3, the Investing News Network (INN) spoke to Samira Sakhia, Knight’s CFO and president, about the company’s recent Health Canada product approval, other product development, and the company’s future.

“Probuphine is a buprenorphine implant for opioid addiction,” Sakhia told INN. “What’s interesting is buprenorphine is actually used every day for treating addiction, its current therapies are daily tablets.”

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Knight licensed Probuphine from a private company called Braeburn Pharmaceuticals and filed the New Drug Submission with Health Canada in June 2017. It was originally developed with ProNeura, a continuous drug delivery system by Titan Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:TTNP).

Titan received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for Probuphine in May 2016 making it the first long-term maintenance treatment for opioid addiction. Buprenorphine is low-dose opioid but in this case the implant allows for a slow six-month release.

“For both patients and physicians it addresses the need for compliance, so you’re not relying on the patient to take it every day,” Sakhia said, adding that it evades diversion for the healthcare system so there’s no risk for the implant to be “diverted for illicit use.”

The company expects to launch the product within the year with a national salesforce, but Sakhia said the company needs to work on some issues related to the product beforehand. The first is making sure the physician is comfortable giving a six-month implant without frequent monitoring, she added for this reason the implant will likely target more stable patients such as professionals dealing with addiction.

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The other issue, which every pharmaceutical company encounters is with reimbursements, the company will have to work through each of the provincial governments for that first.

Knight is already working with physicians on training to find the best method to implant and explant—which is normally put in the upper arm for US patients, Braeburn said.

Aside from Probuphine, the company focused on more opportunities to in-license more products, acquire more products and potentially acquire a company in another jurisdiction, Sakhia said.

Other development includes growing Movantik, a marketed product licensed from AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN), which was indicated for opioid induced constipation. Getting approval for Iluvien, Netildex—of which both are in-licensed from Alimera–and SIFI are also in Knight’s ophthalmic pipeline. Looking to 2019, Knight plans to submitting Tenapanor for approval with Health Canada.

While Knight Therapeutics has had an impressive string of news so far this year, it’s not always reflected in its share price. Following the Bloom Burton & Co. Healthcare Investment conference, the company’ released its Q1 financial results on May 10, which showed an 80 percent increase in revenue, 62 percent increase in cash flow from operations and 14 percent increase in net income.

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The main factor for the big revenue gain was sales for Impavido and Movantik. The latter nearly doubled in revenue from CA$168 million in Q4 2017 compared to CA$301 million in the first quarter. Another highlight includes just a four percent increase in operating expenses, which was caused by activities promoting Movantik that were offset by a reduction in general and administrative expenses. Knight’s share price is CA$7.97 as of market close Thursday (May 17).

Investor Takeaway

Investors interested in Knight should expect to invest in the long-term. Sakhia noted that Knight’s CEO Jonathan Ross Goodman says at every shareholder meeting, “If you’re investing in Knight for the next quarter or next year, we’re not the right investment.”

“We’re financially prudent,” Sakhia said, using Paladin as an example. That company, which Knight’s management team built up, took 19 years “to be an overnight success.” She said they plan to do the same with Knight by balancing risk and reward.

As for the coming year, product development includes growing Movantik—which is currently marketed in Canada and Israel—by getting approval for Iluvien and Netildex and launching Probuphine.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_LifeScience for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Gabrielle Lakusta, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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