The founding idea of a startup isn’t always the one that sticks. In the case of Madison-based Plumb Pharmaceuticals, the original intent was to develop a long-term pain management treatment for animals.

About 10 years later, Plumb is now looking at federal Food and Drug Administration approval for a drug delivery method that will help humans battling opioid addiction.

Founders Timothy Heath and Lisa Krugner-Higby have created a formula of liposomes that, when loaded with medication and injected under the skin, slowly releases medications. Plumb is currently loading the liposomes with naltrexone or buprenorphine — which curb cravings and block opioid receptors — but Heath and Krugner-Higby believe other medications, such as those for mental health conditions, can also be delivered through this process.

CEO Jacqueline Hind, who previously worked at startup Swallow Solutions and was brought on to manage timelines and fundraising for Plumb, said the growing opioid crisis in the U.S. was a central reason for the shift to a human-application of the method. Opioid addicts are most likely to relapse at the end of their medication cycle, she said, just before they go back for another injection.
“When they are kind of at that crossroads, they’re having to make that decision, ‘Should I take my medication or should I take an opiate?’” Hind said. “What our technology would do is put people effectively at that crossroads — instead of everyday or every month — just three to four times a year.”

Liposomes have been used for extended-release drugs for years, Heath said, but the release span for those currently on the market is typically a month. Plumb’s patented method, called Advanced Quantload Technology, has been shown in animal tests to extend that release time to three months. Click here to read the full article.