This week’s launch of Australia’s first ‘for-benefit’ pharmaceutical company is ushering in a new era of social enterprise that’s set to challenge the conventional for-profit pharma model, say stakeholders.
For Benefit Medicines’ purpose is to distribute equally, 100% of profits generated from the sale of their two aromatase inhibitors, Anastrozole FBM and Letrozole FBM, to Australian patient support and medical research organisations – Breast Cancer Network Australia and Breast Cancer Institute of Australia. The FBM medications are now available on prescription, and for dispensing through pharmacies.
According to Professor Bruce Mann, Director of the Breast Service at Royal Melbourne and Royal Women’s Hospitals, and Board member of BCNA, 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,” he says.
“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.
“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.”
FBM is restricted by its Constitution from any distribution of returns to shareholders. Rigid transparency protocols, independent auditing and a low cost base underpin its for-benefit charter.
With annual sales of aromatase inhibitors in Australia exceeding $20 million and the generic segment of the drug class comprising approximately 50% per cent market share, FBM plans to seize the opportunity of capturing and injecting millions of dollars into patient support and medical research for the nation’s third most commonly diagnosed cancer.
Breast Cancer Network Australia CEO, Christine Nolan, whose organisation comprises more than 100,000 members (90% 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,” Nolan says.
“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.”