QRxPharma was established by UniQuest in 2002 to commercialise the pain management and anti-bleeding technologies developed by University of Queensland researchers Professor Maree Smith, Associate Professor Fraser Ross, Dr Paul Masci, Professor Martin Lavin, Professor John de Jersey, and Associate Professor Lindsay Brown.
Australian and international venture capital of A$10 million was secured from Innovation Capital, Nanyang Ventures, SpringRidge Ventures, and Uniseed; possibly the largest first round investment for any Australian start-up at the time. This funded the development of the company and its most advanced drug candidate, the “dual opioid” pain therapy, MoxDuo®.
With the completion of Phase II trials for the immediate release form of MoxDuo® (MoxDuo® IR) in the USA and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to start Phase III clinical trials, QRxPharma was floated in 2007 to raise the necessary funds. The company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and, with 25 million shares, raised A$50 million, with an initial market capitalisation of A$150 million. It was an Australian record as the largest biotech IPO to date, and also the largest biotech capital raising at an IPO. A second A$21.6 million capital raising was successfully completed in late 2009.
Also in 2009, QRxPharma established a joint venture with Liaoning Nuokang Medicines Co Ltd (Nuokang) to develop the commercial potential of two snake-venom derived anti-bleeding drug candidates. As part of the joint venture, QRxPharma formed an Australian-based subsidiary, Venomics Pty Ltd. Nuokang also formed a subsidiary, Venomics Hong Kong and made an investment of US$5 million in this company to fund development of QRxPharma’s venomics assets.
QRxPharma closed a further A$19.8 capital raising in 2010 and announced the successful completion phase III clinical trials for MoxDuo® IR in June 2011. The Company’s New Drug Application for MoxDuo® IR was lodged with the FDA later in 2011. QRxPharma recently signed a strategic partnership agreement with Actavis, Inc. to commercialise MoxDuo® IR once approved in the US market. A second strategic partnership has also been executed with Paladin Labs to commercialise MoxDuo® IR in the Canadian market. Intravenous and controlled-release formulations of MoxDuo® are also being developed and are currently in phase II trials.