Our business in a new decade

2020 marks an important decade of change for the industry.

We have 10 years in which to make progress on the Global Goals, created by the UN to secure dignity, health, peace and prosperity for people and planet. Of these, Goal 3 ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’ is the most important to our sector.

In many ways, there is much to celebrate:

Global life expectancy has risen to 72 years1, child mortality rates have halved since 19902, maternal mortality fell 38% between 2000 and 20173 and polio has been 99% eliminated.4

However, complex health challenges persist:

These are exacerbated by wider systemic and structural issues – not least access, inequality, education, ageing populations (with a corresponding increase in long-term chronic diseases) and the growing cost of healthcare. COVID-19 has made such issues all the more evident, and only reinforces the need for a global response.

We expect technology to be a big driver in change for healthcare in this new decade:

The age of big data offers huge potential for precision medicine, better detection of diseases and new cures – including vaccines for, and responsiveness to, future pandemics. At the same time we must remain vigilant to ethical questions around fair access and data privacy.

1. https://www.who.int/gho/mortality_burden_ disease/life_tables/situation_trends/en/ Last accessed: May 2020
2. https://www.who.int/gho/child_health/mortality/ mortality_under_five_text/en/ Last accessed: May 2020
3. https://data.unicef.org/topic/maternal-health/ maternal-mortality/ Last accessed: May 2020
4. https://www.who.int/features/factfiles/polio/en/ Last accessed: May 2020

A globalised world demands that the pharma industry collaborates more effectively:

With governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), scientists, researchers and health practitioners if we are to tackle these challenges successfully. This is rarely more evident than the current global healthcare crisis demonstrates. For businesses geared for innovation and change, this presents an opportunity to rise to the challenge and contribute meaningfully to the Global Goals. As already strained healthcare systems are tasked with responding to the COVID-19 crisis, the global health community needs to work together to ensure that women can access quality reproductive, prenatal and maternal health treatments and care.

A landmark year of achievements

We are proud of the progress made in advancing the cause of maternal health and the development of therapies to address chronic long-term diseases.

Heat-stable carbetocin added to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Essential Medicines List

Ferring’s heat-stable carbetocin has been added to the WHO Essential Medicines List of uterotonics for the prevention of postpartum haemorrhage (PPH, or excessive bleeding after childbirth), one of the leading direct causes of maternal mortality worldwide. The therapy was developed to address limitations in refrigeration and cold-chain transport of medicines in low and lower-middle income countries. We plan to pilot a programme for delivery in a number of key affected pilot countries.

Being part of Ferring means that we can together combine our development expertise with their global commercial presence... It is a huge opportunity for us both, and for the future of patient solutions in a whole range of chronic diseases.

Lee Jones
Founder and CEO, Rebiotix, a Ferring company.

Unlocking the potential of the human microbiome

The incidence of recurrent pregnancy loss, preterm birth and inflammatory bowel disease are just some of the medical conditions on the rise. Understanding the microbiome’s impact on important reproductive and gut health challenges may hold answers to some of these unmet needs. Ferring Pharmaceuticals together with its long- time research partner the Karolinska Institutet and Rebiotix (part of the Ferring Group) has embarked on a five-year project to explore the potential of the human microbiome in reproductive medicine and maternal health and gastroenterology, focusing on areas of high unmet need, including recurrent pregnancy loss, preterm birth and inflammatory bowel disease. We will do this through ten clinical studies involving approximately 9,000 people.

Therapies for chronic bowel disease

Rebiotix is a late-stage clinical microbiome company within the Ferring Group focused on harnessing the power of the human microbiome to treat challenging diseases. It has announced positive preliminary findings from its ongoing Phase 3 trial of the investigational microbiome-based therapy, RBX2660. These preliminary positive efficacy findings mark an important milestone in its clinical development with a goal of bringing a US FDA approved therapy to patients. The therapy is being designed to reduce the rates of recurrent Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) – a chronic bacterial condition that affects the bowel.

A new business – and a new hope for bladder cancer patients

Many patients suffering from bladder cancer have seen little improvement in their standard of care over the past twenty years. In November 2019, a brand new gene therapy company, FerGene, was created by Ferring and Blackstone Life Sciences to address the needs of these patients. FerGene aims to bring new treatments to those suffering from high-grade, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) unresponsive, non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC). This new company has received significant backing from Blackstone Life Sciences (400 million USD) and Ferring (170 million USD).

Better choices for women in cervical ripening therapy

Globally, approximately 10% of births require the induction of labour, often necessary if the health of the mother or baby is at risk. Cervical ripening is carried out prior to induction to prepare the cervix for birth. Our therapy Propess® (dinoprostone) has been approved in Japan, offering women a greater choice of alternatives to mechanical methods of cervical ripening. This marks an important contribution to the reproductive health of women in Japan.

Sustainability is a really motivating factor for colleagues. Whether it’s our community activities or our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint, or vetting our suppliers, it really matters to us – both personally and professionally.

Shahed Ashraf
Regional HR Director, Ferring UK

Ferring’s laboratories in the US