AFT Pharmaceuticals has proved what consumers have known for some time: ibuprofen and paracetamol taken together work better than when they’re taken separately.

AFT (ASX:AFP) told investors today that data from a clinical trial for an intravenous form of its combined ibuprofen-paracetamol drug Maxigesic was a step towards more lucrative licensing deals.

“The study has found that Maxigesic IV provides much better pain relief than either paracetamol IV or ibuprofen IV alone in the same doses,” the drug developer said.

The US-based study of 276 patients after bunion surgery in Pasadena and Austin cost the New Zealand company $NZ7.5 million ($6.8 million) — its most expensive trial so far.

The intravenous drug is licensed in 71 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Italy, Turkey, and in the Russia-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States.

The results of the study, which will be published later in the month, will form the basis for licences in higher-value markets and help achieve higher upfront licensing payments, managing director Dr Hartley Atkinson said in a statement.

AFT’s chief financial officer Malcolm Tubby told Stockhead while there were other combined products on the market, AFT had a patent over the paracetamol 1000mg / ibuprofen 300mg ratio.

Hospitals tend not to use the combination in IVs, instead pairing paracetamol with opioids, Mr Tubby said.

AFT believes the market for non-opioid painkillers has grown — especially as policymakers begin to seriously look at the impact of opioid abuse — to about $US622 million ($797 million) in sales.

The trial is one of many funded by the company’s New Zealand and Australian initial public offering in December 2015.

After 20 years of profitability AFT realised they needed to spend some money developing in-house intellectual property, Mr Tubby said.

Some of the $NZ35.6 million raised by the 2015 float paid for the Maxigesic IV trial, but it’s been topped up by a $10.35 capital raise this year.

AFT shares were up 4c to $2.25 in early Thursday trade, valuing the company at $226 million.

The stock has traded between $2.11 and $3 this year.