Metrics Inc., a provider of outsourced drug manufacturing, has rolled out a new drug delivery technology that could be applied to existing medicines and help the company grab a sizable piece of what amounts to more than $500 million in annual drug sales.

The Greenville company’s proprietary pellet technology controls the release of a drug’s active pharmaceutical ingredient. Metrics says the technology can tailor a drug’s release to a targeted application and desired end point. For patients, that means fewer doses and fewer side effects, particularly gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea.

The new pellet offering follows Metrics acquisition last October by Australian company Mayne Pharma for $105 million up front. That total could go up by an additional $15 million depending on Metrics’ performance. Mayne focuses on improving oral dosage forms of drugs. Metrics, founded in 1994 by Burroughs Wellcome scientist Phil Hodges and East Carolina University Professor John Bray, offers to pharma companies its expertise tackling complex drug formulations, including drugs that are highly potent or have unstable compounds and controlled substances. For the 12 months ending June 30, then privately-held Metrics recorded $51.6 million in sales.

Since the acquisition, Mayne has successfully applied the Metrics pellet technology to a number of proprietary modified-release drugs. Those drugs include Eryc, a delayed release version of antibiotic erythromycin; Doryx, a delayed-release version of antibiotic doxycycline; Kadian, an extended-release version of the pain-killer morphine; Astrix, a delayed-release version of low-dose aspirin; and pulsed-release diltiazem, a blood pressure drug. Metrics say the combined sales of these drugs tops $500 million a year.

“At the end of the day, pharmaceutical science is all about making drugs as effective and tolerable as possible so that patients can experience both better health and a better quality of life when taking necessary medications,” Dr. Brad Gold, Metrics’ vice president of pharmaceutical development said in a statement. “It’s exciting to offer pellet formulation to our clients – and to the patients they seek to help.”

Following the Metrics acquisition, Mayne kept the Metrics management team and the Greenville facility, which employs approximately 300. Metrics, which offers contract development and manufacturing services to pharma companies testing drugs in clinical trials, now operates as a Mayne subsidiary.