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Banks

U.S. drugmaker Pernix Therapeutics explores sale: sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pernix Therapeutics Holdings Inc PTX.O, a U.S. specialty pharmaceutical company, is exploring strategic alternatives, including a potential sale, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The Morristown, New Jersey-based drugmaker is working with investment bank Perella Weinberg Partners LP, the people said. The process is still in its early stages and may not culminate in a sale, the people added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. Pernix and Perella Weinberg did not respond to requests for comment.

Pernix, which focuses on underserved therapeutic areas, including the central nervous system, has seen its share price decline by more than 80 percent since 2015.

The drop was largely set off by a debt-fueled acquisition of migraine medication Treximet from GlaxoSmithKline Plc GSK.L in 2014. Treximet has since achieved lower sales than originally forecast by management.

The stock has also been pummeled by the broader slide in biotech shares, the result of increased political criticism of drug prices and soaring market volatility.

Pernix shares jumped as much as 17 percent on the news of a potential sale and were trading up 5 percent at $2.09 in afternoon trading in New York on Monday, giving the company a market capitalization of around $130 million.

The sale process marks a continuation of a trend towards small life sciences companies being pushed to consider a sale in response to reduced access to debt and equity markets.

Pernix carried nearly $500 million in liabilities as of September 2015, much of it in the form of long-term debt.

Editing by Chris Reese and Alistair Bell

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