Pacira Pharma (PCRX) Announces FDA Approval of Supplemental New Drug Application for EXPAREL in Pediatric Patients

March 23, 2021 6:24 AM EDT

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EXPAREL is the first and only FDA-approved long-acting local analgesic for children aged six and over
-- Conference call tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. ET --

Pacira BioSciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: PCRX), the industry leader in its commitment to non-opioid pain management and regenerative health solutions, today announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the submission of its supplemental new drug application (sNDA) seeking expansion of the EXPAREL label to include use in patients 6 years of age and older for single-dose infiltration to produce postsurgical local analgesia. With this approval, EXPAREL is the first and only FDA approved long-acting local analgesic for the pediatric population as young as age six.

“The current standard of care for managing moderate-to-severe pain in children is opioids, which often come with unwanted severe and possibly life-threatening side effects in this vulnerable patient population,” said Dave Stack, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Pacira. “In line with our corporate mission to provide an opioid alternative to as many patients as possible, we are grateful for the opportunity to give clinicians and patients a new, safe and effective option for achieving long-lasting non-opioid pain control in children without the need for an indwelling catheter and pump.”

Since initial approval in 2011, more than 8 million patients have been treated with EXPAREL. With approximately one million pediatric procedures per year where opioids, catheters and pain pumps are the mainstay of postsurgical pain control, there is an urgent unmet need for opioid alternatives.

“There has been a significant gap in our pain control armamentarium as it relates to the ability to safely and effectively provide long-lasting non-opioid pain control for the pediatric surgical population,” said Christopher Tirotta, MD, Chief of Anesthesiology at Nicklaus Children's Hospital and an investigator in the pivotal PLAY study. “Traditional local anesthetics have not provided a duration of pain control that matches the time course of the most significant postsurgical pain, which has necessitated the reliance on opioids in an attempt to manage pain. With the addition of EXPAREL as an FDA-approved non-opioid option to provide prolonged pain control we are better equipped to treat our pediatric patients while reducing opioid exposure, and ultimately improving outcomes.”

The sNDA was based on the positive data from the Phase 3 PLAY study of EXPAREL infiltration in pediatric patients undergoing spinal or cardiac surgeries. Overall findings were consistent with the pharmacokinetic and safety profiles for adult patients with no safety concerns identified at a dose of 4 mg/kg. The PLAY study enrolled 98 patients to evaluate safety and the pharmacokinetics of EXPAREL for two patient groups: patients aged 12 to less than 17 years and patients aged 6 to less than 12 years. Per FDA guidance, the primary objectives of the PLAY study were to evaluate the pharmacokinetics and safety of EXPAREL.

“Moderate-to-severe postsurgical pain is experienced by 40% of hospitalized children, and every scoliosis patient I treat surgically. Over and under treated pain in pediatric patients is a significant cause of morbidity after surgery,” said Peter Newton, MD, Chief of the Division of Orthopedics & Scoliosis at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and Clinical Professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “Opioids are responsible for 50% of postsurgical respiratory failure events in children, and often cause unpleasant side effects delaying a patient’s recovery after surgery. This FDA approval is a remarkable victory for pediatric patients and their families and paves the way for opioid-minimizing pain management protocols in children undergoing surgery.”

Tomorrow’s Conference Call and Webcast Reminder
The Pacira management team will host a conference call to discuss the contents of this press release tomorrow, Tuesday, March 23rd, at 8:30 a.m. ET. To participate in the conference call, dial 1-877-845-0779 and provide the passcode 1185087. International callers may dial 1-720-545-0035 and use the same passcode. In addition, a live audio of the conference call will be available as a webcast. Interested parties can access the event through the “Events” page on the Pacira website at

For those unable to participate in the live call, a replay will be available at 1-855-859-2056 (domestic) or 1-404-537-3406 (international) using the passcode 1185087. The replay of the call will be available for one week from the date of the live call. The webcast will be available on the Pacira website for approximately two weeks following the call.

About Pacira BioSciences
Pacira BioSciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: PCRX) is the industry leader in its commitment to non-opioid pain management and regenerative health solutions to improve patients’ journeys along the neural pain pathway. The company’s long-acting local analgesic, EXPAREL® (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension) was commercially launched in the United States in April 2012. EXPAREL utilizes DepoFoam®, a unique and proprietary product delivery technology that encapsulates drugs without altering their molecular structure, and releases them over a desired period of time. In April 2019, Pacira acquired the iovera° system, a handheld cryoanalgesia device used to deliver precise, controlled doses of cold temperature only to targeted nerves. To learn more about Pacira, including the corporate mission to reduce overreliance on opioids, visit

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