WEX Pharmaceuticals Inc.
TSX : WXI

WEX Pharmaceuticals Inc.

June 17, 2008 14:24 ET

WEX Appoints Chief Scientific Officer

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - June 17, 2008) - WEX Pharmaceuticals Inc. ("WEX" or the "Company") (TSX:WXI) announced today the appointment of Dr. Jean Bourgouin to the position of Chief Scientific Officer effective June 1, 2008. In his new role, Dr. Bourgouin will oversee the further clinical development of WEX's lead product, Tectin for the treatment of cancer pain. In addition, he will have overall responsibility for WEX's research and development programs. Dr. Anh Ho Ngoc will retain the position of Vice President, Regulatory Affairs.

Dr. Bourgouin brings to WEX over 25 years of global clinical drug development experience in the pharmaceutical industry. He joined Rhone-Poulenc Rorer in Canada (now Sanofi-Aventis Canada) in 1982 and held positions of increasing responsibility, serving as Vice President of Scientific Affairs at Sanofi-Aventis Canada for eight years. In this role, he had responsibility for all stages of clinical development and product registration in Canada as well as market access implementing health economics, health management and professional education strategies. He was previously Chief Medical Officer of WEX from March 2005 to March 2006. Subsequently, he has held the position of Vice President of Medical Affairs at Bradmer Pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Bourgouin is a graduate of Universite de Montreal where he acquired a doctorate diploma in medicine. He went on to become Associate Professor in the Pharmacology Department of Universite de Montreal. He received his B.A. from College Jean de Brebeuf, his M.Sc. in Pharmacology from Universite de Montreal, and is a licensed member of the Medical Council of Canada.

"We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Bourgouin back to WEX," said Bin Huang, WEX's President and CEO. "In addition to his understanding of Tectin from his previous work with WEX, his training as a physician and extensive clinical experience in the pharmaceutical industry will add great value to our clinical program for Tectin. He also brings an excellent commercial background, which will strengthen our management team, as we seek to broaden the indications for Tectin and seek commercial partners."

About Tectin

The active ingredient in Tectin is tetrodotoxin (TTX), a highly selective sodium channel blocker derived from the puffer fish. Sodium channels are found on nerves and are involved in transmission of nerve impulses. Tetrodotoxin targets a subset of sodium channels found on nerves which conduct pain impulses. There are changes to this subset of sodium channels in chronic pain conditions. Tetrodotoxin is extremely potent, and much lower dosages are needed to produce an analgesic effect than with other drugs.

WEX recently started a Phase III clinical trial of Tectin for the treatment of cancer pain. This clinical trial (TEC-006) is a multicentre, randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled trial comparing the efficacy and safety of Tectin to placebo in approximately 120 patients with moderate to severe inadequately controlled cancer-related pain.

Market Opportunity

At present, the management of severe cancer pain generally includes the use of morphine and other opiates. This can often result in undesirable side effects, and treatment with this type of medication is not always effective. Because currently available pain-relieving therapy is unsatisfactory for many patients, there is a need for new therapeutic approaches for the management of moderate or severe cancer pain.

In addition to the unmet medical need, the number of patients suffering from cancer continues to grow. In North America alone, based on estimates provided by the American Cancer Society and the Canadian Cancer Society, 1,604,820 were diagnosed with cancer in the United States and Canada in 2007. Between 75% and 90% of patients with metastatic or advanced stage cancer will experience significant cancer-induced pain. In hospitalized patients, 79% experience pain, with 46% experiencing severe pain despite analgesic therapy. Moreover, the actual treatment of cancer can cause pain, with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy occurring in about half of patients receiving some types of chemotherapy. The global market for pain therapeutics used in cancer patients was approximately US$15.2 billion in 2005 and this is expected to reach at least US$23 billion by 2010.

About WEX Pharmaceuticals Inc.

WEX Pharmaceuticals Inc. is dedicated to the discovery, development, manufacture and commercialization of innovative drug products to treat pain. The Company's principal business strategy is to derive drugs from naturally occurring toxins and develop proprietary products for the global market.

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