The drug maker Valeant Pharma has won approval to manufacture an opioid in the UK, raising hopes for its potential to replace opioids prescribed by hospitals and doctors for pain relief.
The drug, called Narcan, was developed in collaboration with a pharma firm called AstraZeneca, according to the Guardian newspaper.
It was developed with the help of the US firm, which was founded in 2007 and which has a clinical license to sell the drug in the US.
However, the UK government has so far refused to grant Valeant the right to market its drug in Britain.
The UK is one of several countries where Valeant has had to fight for approval, which has been granted in many cases in a bid to save the UK from a spiralling drug-related death toll.
The government has approved only two drugs for the use of the NHS, which Valeant had to abandon in 2014.
The other two, the drug sold by the UK’s National Institute for Health Research (Nice), and a drug sold to French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, were withdrawn from the market because of the government’s decision to scrap a requirement that all drugs approved for the UK have to be available for sale within 72 hours.
The licence granted to Valeant was for the manufacture of Narcan to treat the misuse of heroin and morphine.
The company is expected to be granted another licence for the production of the drug next year.
The drugs were developed by an international team led by scientists from the University of Cambridge, which is now at the heart of the investigation into the deadly heroin crisis in Britain and around the world.
The Guardian reported that the UK has the world’s highest per capita heroin consumption, and that the number of people in the country who have tried heroin more than doubled from 2014 to 2016.
The research was funded by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, a US agency that funds research into drugs that can be used for treatment or prevention.
Dr John Kelly, a drug expert at Imperial College London, said that although Narcan is not widely available, it is being developed in an effort to combat the growing opioid crisis in the developing world.
“It is important to remember that many of the drugs that we’re trying to get approved for use in the West have a very similar profile to those that we are developing here,” he said.
The Narcan team is also working on other medicines to treat pain, he added.
The National Institute of Health Research said it had not been involved in the development of Narconon’s opioid-related drug.
Dr Kelly said that he expected that other countries in the EU, where Valeants medicines are used, would eventually join the UK in rejecting Valeant’s application for a clinical licence to market Narconons drug.
The Valeant-produced drug will be the first to be approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to be used in the European Union.
A spokesperson for the EMA said it would be reviewing the application and could not comment on individual cases.
In an interview with the Associated Press news agency, Valeant said it expected that the EEMA would issue its decision in the next few weeks.
The company is planning to introduce the drug to the UK market by 2021, the Guardian reported.
Narconon said it was working closely with the EEA on the licence application.
“This is the first of many opportunities that we have to develop products to help people reduce their pain, and to make sure that those products work in the healthcare system,” said the company.
“We will continue to work with EMA to make our product available to the NHS.”
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