updated 1/19/2011 11:46:30 AM ET 2011-01-19T16:46:30

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 19, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Apricus Biosciences, Inc. ("Apricus Bio") (Nasdaq:APRI) today announced that an additional analysis conducted on behalf of the Company has shown that MycoVa has successfully demonstrated 'non-inferiority' for the treatment of onychomycosis (commonly referred to as nail fungus), compared to the current standard of care in Europe for topical therapy, Loceryl®.

'Non-inferiority' means that the experimental treatment worked well enough, compared to the effective existing drug, to support the conclusion that the new test drug is also effective. With this new analysis, Apricus Bio intends to request regulatory guidance from certain European agencies for the continued development of MycoVa and hopes to eventually file for approval in certain European countries to market the drug for onychomycosis. "We are very pleased with this new analysis," says Dr. Bassam Damaj, President and Chief Executive Officer of Apricus Bio. "We believe it may allow us to move forward towards eventual approval of the drug."

MycoVa(formally known as NM100060) combines an existing, approved drug for nail fungus, terbinafine, with Apricus' NexACT® technology that enhances the absorption of the drug through the skin. Clinical trials on the drug started after 2005, when NexMed (now known as Apricus Bio) signed an agreement with Novartis, under which Novartis assumed responsibility to develop and commercialize the drug.

The first clinical trials did not show clear-cut efficacy, and in 2008, NexMed announced that the results were not strong enough to support filing for new drug approval with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Novartis declined to continue to develop the drug in 2009, and NexMed acquired the worldwide rights to the drug, subject to certain payments to be made to Novartis.

A later trial conducted by Novartis in Europe between 2007 and 2009, comparing MycoVa with Loceryl® over 48 weeks, was more promising. The reanalysis of the comparator trial data announced today shows that MycoVa is no less effective than Loceryl®in curing nail fungus. The percentage of patients with an adverse event that was suspected to be related to study drug was low for both drugs with no serious adverse events attributed to the drugs. There also were no safety concerns.

"We were disappointed that Novartis did not move forward with the drug in 2009, but we were excited when we regained worldwide rights, subject to certain payments to Novartis," explained Dr. Damaj. "We were convinced at that time, and remain so today, that MycoVa had, and has, the potential to treat patients with mild onychomycosis. The analysis that we have recently performed has convinced us to move forward and request regulatory guidance meetings from health agencies in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany."

In the study, 1,029 patients with mild to moderate nail fungus were given either MycoVa (a topical 10% terbinafine hydrogen chloride formulation) or Loceryl® (5% amorolfine nail lacquer) for 48 weeks of treatment. The primary objective endpoint was a complete cure. The secondary endpoints were killing the fungus and improving the appearance of the nail.

The reanalysis of the results showed no significant difference in either the primary or secondary endpoints between MycoVa and Loceryl®,which is a registered trademark of Galderma.

The advantage of Apricus Bio's MycoVa is that it is easy to apply, thus improving patient compliance.  MycoVa is applied to the infected nails, typically at bedtime, with minimal preparation, such as simply washing with soap and water. The formulation allows significant amounts of the drug to penetrate through the nail plate to the nail bed and surrounding area where fungus is located.  By contrast, Loceryl® requires more patient care before applying the lacquer. For Loceryl®, this includes filing the affected areas of nail, including the nail surfaces, as thoroughly as possible. The surface of the nail should then be cleansed using disposable swabs.  The nail lacquer should be applied onto the entire surface of the infected nail(s) using reusable applicators.  Before repeat application of Loceryl®, the affected nails should be filed down again as required, following cleansing with a cleaning pad to remove any residual lacquer. 

Onychomycosis is a chronic persistent fungal infection of the nail bed resulting in thickening and discoloration of the nail, which sometimes can be accompanied by serious pain and disability. According to the Merck Manual, the worldwide incidence rate of onychomycosis is approximately 10%. As described by Iorizzo and Piraccini (2007), the incidence has been increasing due to diabetes, immunosuppression and an aging population. While occurring in approximately 2.6% of children younger than 18 years, it occurs in as much as 90% of the elderly population (eMedicine.medscape.com). As of 2008, Thomson Reuters Pharma has stated that the worldwide market is approximately $2.8 billion in size and is expected to grow to approximately $2.9 billion by 2014.

About Apricus Biosciences, Inc.

Backed by NexMed, USA and Bio-Quant, Inc., its revenue generating CRO business, Apricus Bio has leveraged the flexibility of its clinically-validated NexACT® drug delivery technology to enable multi-route administration of new and improved compounds across numerous therapeutic classes. Future growth is expected to be driven primarily through out-licensing of this technology for the development and commercialization of such compounds to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, worldwide. Concurrently, the Company is seeking to monetize its existing product pipeline, including its approved drug erectile dysfunction treatment, Vitaros®, as well as compounds in development from pre-clinical through Phase 3, currently focused on dermatology, sexual dysfunction and cancer. For further information on Apricus Bio and its subsidiaries, visit http://www.apricusbio.com .

Apricus Bio's Forward-Looking Statement Safe Harbor

Statements under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, as amended: With the exception of the historical information contained in this release, the matters described herein contain forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that may individually or mutually impact the matters herein described for a variety of reasons that are outside the control of the Company, including, but not limited to, its ability to obtain and/or enforce patent coverage in major markets, to develop products that have been demonstrated in clinical trials and to successfully enter into partnership agreements for its product candidates, its Vitaros® product and its NexACT® platform technology. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements as actual results could differ materially from the forward-looking statements contained herein. Readers are urged to read the risk factors set forth in the Company's most recent annual report on Form 10-K, subsequent quarterly reports filed on Form 10-Q and other filings made with the SEC. Copies of these reports are available from the SEC's website or without charge from the Company.

CONTACT: Apricus Biosciences, Inc.
         Edward Cox
         VP, Investor Relations & Corporate Development
         (858) 848-4249
         ecox@apricusbio.com
         
         Apricus Bio Investor Relations
         Paula Schwartz
         Rx Communications Group, LLC
         (917) 322-2216
         pschwartz@rxir.com

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