Marathon Pharmaceuticals is a company in the biopharmaceutical field that specializes in developing and launching new treatments for rare diseases. As opposed to large-scale pharmaceutical companies, Marathon focuses on small volume, hard-to-manufacture medications. The company then makes these medications available to patients with few, if any, treatment options. Marathon also explores a pipeline of treatments for rare cancers, neurological disorders and other conditions.
In addition to its headquarters in Northbrook, Illinois, Marathon has offices in Chicago and New Jersey. The company also announced the opening of the Marathon Bioscience Center, located in Chicago’s River North district. This facility houses research, clinical, and regulatory staff who are responsible for developing new therapies for cancer, central nervous system diseases, movement disorders, gastrointestinal diseases, and endocrine deficiencies. The development of these therapies is critical to Marathon’s mission to work with patients who have rare diseases or otherwise unmet medical needs. Marathon’s Bioscience Center is located close to MATTER, a hub for biotechnology and healthcare startups.
Manufacturing Crucial Medications
Marathon also specializes in crucial medications which tend to be difficult to manufacture, such as Amytal Sodium, a barbiturate derivative used as a sedative-hypnotic. Barbiturates are nonselective central nervous system depressants, and by depressing the sensory cortex, these medications decrease motor activity and produce drowsiness, sedation, and hypnosis. For this reason, Amytal Sodium is used in the short-term treatment of insomnia. Additionally, Marathon markets another barbiturate derivative called Seconal Sodium, which is used as a hypnotic for the short-term treatment of insomnia and a pre-anesthetic before surgery.
Marathon also markets prescription strength PEPCID®, a histamine H2-receptor antagonist. This medication works by reducing the amount of acid in patients’ stomachs. In clinical studies of PEPCID, patients experienced faster heartburn relief, and a greater percentage of patients also experienced complete relief of nighttime heartburn. Doctors often recommend PEPCID for the short-term treatment of ulcers, such as active duodenal ulcers and benign gastric ulcers, as well as for the short-term treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Separately, Marathon Pharmaceuticals marketed opium tincture, a clear, reddish-brown hydroalcoholic solution that aids in the treatment of diarrhea. Opium tincture works by decreasing muscle contractions and digestive secretions.
The Launch of ZiNGO
Marathon Pharmaceuticals most well-known product launch is a powder intradermal injection system called ZiNGO, or lidocaine hydrochloride monohydrate. ZiNGO is a needle-free, easy-to-use device that delivers local anesthetic to manage venous access pain. The product is geared towards children ages 3-18, who tend to experience the worst anxiety during needle insertions.
The hand-held, single-use device doesn’t require refrigeration. With the push of a button, ZiNGO delivers a 0.5mg dose of powdered lidocaine to the application site. Then, the lidocaine particles are transferred through the skin using a helium-powered delivery system. ZiNGO numbs the application site within one to three minutes, so medical providers can use it during procedures without interrupting care. And there’s no need to worry about the effects lasting too long because the lidocaine powder diminishes after just 10 minutes.
An IV cannulation is when a medical provider places a cannula inside a vein to provide venous access—a massive source of pain and distress for children in pediatric hospitals. For some, the anxiety and subsequent pain associated with the insertion of a needle is so severe that they must be restrained for blood draws or IV starts. By using ZiNGO, doctors can reassure children and their families that they won’t feel any pain during needle insertion thanks to the numbing powers of powdered lidocaine.
Why Experts Called ZiNGO a “Paradigm Shift”
William T. Zempsky, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Division Head of Pain and Palliative Medicine at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, led the pediatric clinical trials of ZiNGO and said the device could lead to a “paradigm shift” in the approach to venous access in children.
“Because commonly available local anesthetic products can take up to 30 to 60 minutes to work, making incorporation into the busy healthcare environment difficult, health care providers have had to sacrifice patient comfort when performing the numerous venous access procedures that occur each day. ZiNGO will be a source of relief to children and parents,” he explained to BusinessWire.
Zempsky also said physicians look to innovative medical products to increase patient comfort both in and out of the operating room. He cited a survey of 2,187 nurses, which stated that peripheral intravenous catheter placement pain is one of the leading causes of procedural-related pain in hospitals. ZiNGO reduces not only the pain but the anxiety associated with venipuncture and IV insertion.
The Partnership with Medline
To market and distribute ZiNGO, Marathon Pharmaceuticals partnered with Medline, a global distributor of medical supplies and clinical solutions. Luke Stevens, President of the Nutrition and Pharmaceuticals Division of Medline, said the collaboration between Marathon and Medline brought together top-tier healthcare professionals focused on patient care.
“We’re excited to be joining forces with Marathon Pharmaceuticals to bring healthcare professionals a unique lidocaine drug delivery system to help manage IV start and blood draw pain. ZiNGO is a convenient and easy-to-use local topical anesthetic which is needle-free, sterile, ready-to-use, disposable, provides analgesia in as little as 1-3 minutes, and is stored at room temperature. As our customers require other options to help improve patient outcomes and satisfaction, they can be confident in our never-ending search for proven solutions,” he said.
Initially, Marathon focused on providing ZiNGO to children’s hospitals, medical centers, and community hospitals. Tom Larson, Vice President, Commercial Operations of Marathon, said Marathon recognized the high demands of clinicians caring for patients and said he was thrilled at the initial clinical trials of ZiNGO.
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