Access Pharmaceuticals Inc. develops and commercializes proprietary products for the treatment and care of cancer patients. The company today announced an agreement with commercial manufacturer Accupac Inc. to produce and distribute Access’ FDA-approved MuGard in the North American market.

MuGard is a mucoadhesive oral wound rinse for patients in radiation and chemotherapy that often-time develop mucositis, or the inflammation of mucous membranes along the lining of the digestive track, including the mouth. The company says the market for treating oral mucositis is estimated at $5 billion worldwide.

“Access is moving forward with the development of MuGard in North America,” Jeffrey B. Davis, Access’ president and CEO stated in the press release. “Establishing our relationship with Accupac, a leader in liquid contract manufacturing, is critical to our successful commercialization of MuGard. In addition, Access is currently evaluating potential eMarketing partners as well as potential co-promotion or other licensing opportunities.”

According to Access, up to 80 percent of patients receiving radiotherapy, and 40 percent of all chemotherapy patients, develop oral mucositis. MuGard creates a protective coating over the oral mucosa when “swirled” inside the mouth, and according to Access, MuGard studies have shown it to significantly reduce the incidence and severity of such side effects associated with radiation and chemotherapy.

Access said it plans on using the first batches of MuGard in market seeding studies, which it anticipates conducting in the fourth quarter of 2009. MuGard is currently on the market in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Norway and Greece by Access’ partner, SpePharm.