Medical startup receives major investment

Investment signals potential boost to patients self-care choices.

The GM&C Life Sciences fund has awarded a £700,000 investment to a medical firm focused on increasing patient opportunities for self-care.

Maxwellia was founded by Anna Maxwell in 2013 to promote a process called ‘switching’, whereby the manufacturers of prescription medication liaise with government to have their products reclassified for over the counter (OTC) sale.  The company’s most high-profile work to date has been the successful reclassification of EllaOne (ulipristal acetate), the world’s most advanced morning-after contraceptive.

Despite once being common, the process has become increasingly rarified in the UK since the late 2000s. Household names such as Nurofen and Imodium became available for general purchase many years ago, and continue to be popular despite their generic equivalents (ibuprofen and loperamide) being readily available for purchase.

But Ms Maxwell, who serves as the company’s CEO, insists the tide is beginning to rise once again. In an interview, she claimed that companies were reconsidering opening their products up to patients due to issues surrounding exclusivity rights to new innovations.

“The way the system is now, you invent a new drug and you have the exclusive rights to it for 20 years, with a maximum of 15 years after it’s first approved for use”, she said in an interview. “I think that’s exactly right, but for a lot companies they’re concerned about what happens to them after that time runs out and cheaper equivalents become available”.

Nurofen is the original, branded name for ibuprofen. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Taking medicines off prescription can have significant positive effects on patient quality of life as well as a manufacturer’s revenue. Most notably in recent years, the anti-malaria treatment Maloff Protect (atovaquone/proguanil hydrochloride) was reclassified to be sold in pharmacies. This allowed Brits returning from areas with high risk of the disease to be treated without frequent disruptive visits to the hospital.