personal and fast

Ana’s new life

What do you do when urgently needed medicines are not permitted in the home country of a patient? Two PHOENIX group subsidiaries lend a helping hand with their pharmaceutical and legal expertise.

Ana was already very ill at the age of 14 months – she was constantly tired and her movements were severely restricted. In her Serbian home town of Novi Sad, the doctors were puzzled about the cause. It turned out that Ana was suffering from a rare neurotransmitter disease (tyrosine hydroxylase) in which the brain does not produce enough of the hormone dopamine. „We were relieved when we finally found the cause,“ says her mother, Ivana Badnjarevic. She was happy when she heard that her daughter would be able to lead a normal life by regularly taking a drug called l-dopa. There was, however, a problem: the disease is extremely rare with less than 100 known cases worldwide, and the required medicine was unobtainable in Serbia.

But then the pharmacist at Ana’s clinic came to the rescue with a brilliant idea. He contacted INO-Pharm, the Serbian subsidiary of the PHOENIX group specialised in obtaining drugs that are not available or even permitted on the domestic market. The little girl has been taking the preparation in Serbia for two and a half years, her mother reports. „Ana is now five years old and is able to lead a normal life.“

Ana is now five years old and is able to lead a normal life. Ivana Badnjarevic Ana's mother

Tracking down rare drugs is laborious work, requiring extensive knowledge and experience. Of the 20 employees at INO-Pharm, 10 are highly specialised in obtaining drugs as the regulations tied to the importation of unlicensed medicines is strict. These experts not only know the manufacturers of rare medicines but are also well-versed in the regulatory environment. They understand how drugs are imported and are familiar with the procedures of the regulatory authorities. Every year, they track down between 140 and 170 different products and have them sent to patients seeking help in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia.

It is not unusual for certain drugs to be unavailable, particularly in smaller countries where high registration fees for medicines often make it unprofitable for pharmaceutical manufacturers. For this very reason, Specific Pharma, a PHOENIX group subsidiary in Denmark, handles the importation of pharmaceuticals for which approval has not yet been applied for in the respective countries. This subsidiary has approximately 1,000 drugs permanently in stock. In 2018, Specific Pharma provided 2,500 urgently needed medicines to patients.

Specific Pharma’s services are also in demand in other countries. Over the past few years, the company has gradually extended its coverage to other markets, including all of the Nordic countries, the Baltics and the Netherlands. Last year, a request came in from a patient in Lithuania who needed a specific medicine that affects the functionality of the nerve cells in the brain. Although the drug was permitted in Lithuania, there was a shortage of supply throughout Europe. The patient was scheduled to start an important treatment in two weeks’ time. The experts from Specific Pharma set about their work, made the necessary enquiries within their global supplier network, and delivered the drug in less than one week.

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