Australia’s first ‘for-benefit’ pharmaceutical company directing 100% of profits to patient support & medical research
Today’s launch of the nation’s first ‘for-benefit’ pharmaceutical company will see 100 per cent of profits injected into local breast cancer patient support and medical research organisations.
For Benefit Medicines’ (FBM) – an innovative social enterprise set to challenge the conventional for-profit pharmaceutical model – will distribute ALL profits from the sale of its two aromatase inhibitor medications, Anastrozole FBM (anastrazole) and Letrozole FBM (letrozole), to Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) and Breast Cancer Institute of Australia (BCIA).
The FBM medications are now available on prescription, and for dispensing through pharmacies nation-wide. According to Professor Bruce Mann, Director of the Breast Service at Royal Melbourne and Royal Women’s Hospitals, and Board member of BCNA and BCIA, the concept of a for-benefit pharmaceutical company is way overdue, and an initiative from which patients stand to significantly benefit.
“FBM is pioneering a new era of social enterprise in pharmaceutical healthcare in which companies will operate exclusively for social causes, patient benefit and medical innovation.
“FBM represents the perfect hybrid of a formally structured commercial entity that distributes products that improve quality of life, while directing profits to beat diseases,” said Prof Mann.
“By choosing an FBM product, the medical community will be investing in local patient support programs today, and facilitating medical research to improve treatments tomorrow.”
With annual sales of aromatase inhibitors in Australia exceeding $20 million
and the generic segment of the drug class comprising approximately 50 per cent of market share, FBM plans to capture and inject millions of dollars into patient support and medical research for the nation’s third most commonly diagnosed cancer.
Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) CEO, Christine Nolan, whose organisation comprises more than 100,000 members, 90 per cent of whom are women diagnosed with breast cancer, has welcomed the philanthropic initiative, and its shared goals of providing breast cancer patient support, information, treatment and care.
“An estimated 15,600 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia this year, while the projected number of deaths from the disease will exceed 3,000,” Ms Nolan said.
“While fundraising constitutes the mainstay of our revenue, having an initiative that provides a constant, daily stream of financial support, is both remarkable and warmly embraced.
“A simple change in prescription will help ensure that no Australian has to face breast cancer alone,” said Ms Nolan.
ANZBCTG CEO, Dr Soozy Smith, says clinical trials have played a significant role in improving breast cancer treatments and the fall in breast cancer mortality rates, particularly over the past 20 years.
“Funding is vital to ensure our researchers can pursue the answers to important scientific questions and improve outcomes for people at risk, or diagnosed with breast cancer.
“This [FBM] initiative is a unique business model which puts the focus on improved health outcomes in the community, by making breast cancer research and support a priority,” Dr Smith said.
“Funding for breast cancer clinical trials will help our researchers find new and improved treatment and prevention strategies, and ultimately save more lives.”
Sydney working mum, Elizabeth, 32, who was diagnosed with hormone receptor positive breast cancer at 26 years of age, just two days after her baby was born, and more recently with metastatic breast cancer in 2014, describes the FBM model as a trailblazer for the pharmaceutical industry.
“FBM is the best type of pharmaceutical company. It’s amazing this company is entering the market selling generic medicines and returning 100 per cent of profits to breast cancer patient support and research.
“I would encourage the breast cancer community at-large to support this worthy initiative, and hope FBM is seen as a trailblazer, leading the way for other pharmaceutical companies to follow suit,” said Elizabeth.
All FBM medications are approved by the Australian Government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for use in Australia, and are required to meet the same strict regulations applied to the original brand, with regard to quality, safety and effectiveness.
Anastrozole FBM and Letrozole FBM are indicated for adjuvant (optimally supportive) treatment of early breast cancer and treatment of advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women with oestrogen/progestogen receptor positive disease.
According to Professor John Boyages, Professor of Breast Oncology, Macquarie University, Sydney, and author of Breast Cancer: Taking Control, “at least two-thirds of female breast cancers are hormone receptor positive, meaning the body’s natural oestrogen can encourage them to grow and reproduce – a bit like putting fertiliser on a weed.
“Although breast cancer can occur in younger women, the majority of breast cancers are diagnosed in women who have gone through the menopause,” Prof Boyages said.
“Aromatase inhibitors are often used in these post-menopausal women with hormone receptor positive breast cancer after surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, by stopping the production of small amounts of oestrogen that is produced after the menopause and thereby preventing recurrence of their disease.”
The brainchild of social entrepreneurs, Barry Frost, John Hurley, Mark Davies Karvonen and Jackson Su, who share more than 80 years’ combined experience in healthcare and management, FBM is the first enterprise of its kind in Australia, if not worldwide.
“The concept of a for-benefit pharmaceutical organisation stems from the idea that once a brand goes off patent, it is then possible to have products from which all profits generated may be reinvested into the community,” said FBM Director, Dr Barry Frost, PhD.
“Choosing an FBM generic that serves the same treatment purpose, will ensure profits go directly to patient support and breast cancer research.”
“Our ultimate goal is to help improve the lives of our fellow Australians. The FBM initiative provides an opportunity for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and breast cancer patients to raise millions of dollars for BCNA and BCIA each year. However, for this to become a reality, we need all of these parties to get behind the cause and support FBM,” said Dr Barry Frost.
Anastrozole FBM and Letrozole FBM are available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) at the same cost to patients as their current aromatase inhibitor treatment.
“By choosing an FBM product, patients living with breast cancer will be investing in local breast cancer support programs today, and breast cancer medical research for tomorrow,” John Hurley said.
“All these patients need to do, is to ask their doctor and pharmacist for the FBM product, which will incur no extra cost.”
[hr] Source: ANZBCTG