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Pacira says painkiller effective in wider range of patients

(Reuters) - Pacira Pharmaceuticals Inc said a late-stage study showed the painkiller, Exparel, significantly reduced pain for a wider range of patients after surgery, sending its shares up 5 percent in premarket trading.

Exparel, currently used to manage post-surgical pain at the site of an operation, was tested to numb a major adjacent nerve. This expands the use of the drug to cases where it is difficult to inject a painkiller directly into the area of pain.

The study, which evaluated 183 patients who received either 266 mg of Exparel or a placebo, showed that patients taking the medicine experienced significant reduction in pain over 72 hours.

Exparel, launched in the United States in April 2012, is a sustained-release formulation of a local anesthetic, bupivacaine. It generated sales of $30.5 million in the quarter ended December 31.

The treatment combines bupivacaine with the company's DepoFoam technology, a drug delivery system that releases the medicine over a period of time.

Pacira said it expected to submit a marketing application for the wider use of Exparel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the second quarter.

The Parsippany, New Jersey-based company's shares closed at $78.05 on the Nasdaq on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Esha Dey and Natalie Grover in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das and Don Sebastian)