LONDON (Reuters) - Reckitt Benckiser Group's pharmaceuticals unit plans to develop a nasal spray to treat overdoses of heroin and some prescription painkillers, the company said on Monday.
Reckitt, better known for its Mucinex cold medicine and Durex condoms, said it had entered into an agreement with AntiOp Inc to co-develop the spray, with the option to buy all rights to it upon receipt of regulatory and marketing approval.
The deal diversifies Reckitt's shrinking pharmaceuticals unit, which is currently the subject of a strategic review as it sits outside the company's core business in consumer products.
This is the second such deal in less than a week and could help the company get a better valuation in a market flotation of the unit, which is what Reckitt has said it was leaning toward.
Reckitt said last week it would develop a drug to treat alcohol abuse, in addition to its Suboxone treatment, which treats addiction to heroin and opioid painkillers such as morphine and oxycodone. Suboxone sales are falling due to competition from cheaper generic versions.
When it comes to treating overdoses, the current standard medical protocol is an injection of the medicine naloxone. The new product aims to deliver naloxone in a nasal spray, which would be easier for family or caregivers to administer.
Drug overdoses have surpassed car crashes to become the leading cause of injury death in the United States, as use of opioids has increased steadily over the past decade.
(Reporting by Martinne Geller, Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter)