Blainville – October 26, 2010. A new player has entered into the Canadian orphan drug landscape: Medunik Canada, with a mission to bring currently unavailable orphan therapies for Canadian individuals with rare diseases. Headquartered in the northern area of Montréal, Medunik Canada is the sister company of Duchesnay Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company dedicated mainly to the health of pregnant women and their unborn babies. Duchesnay and Medunik Canada are part of the Groupe Pharmaceutique Boivin, a Canadian family-owned organisation.
Éric Gervais, Executive Vice-President of both Medunik Canada and Duchesnay, explained what lead to the creation of this new corporate entity. "It is estimated that 1 in 12 Canadians has a rare disease, which is often chronic, progressive, degenerative and life-threatening. Unfortunately, Canada lags behind the United States, Europe and other countries in implementing a comprehensive orphan drug policy. Such an initiative could encourage pharmaceutical and biopharma companies to develop and market orphan therapies which, under normal market conditions, would not be financially viable since these products are intended for a small number of patients suffering from rare conditions. Consequently fewer novel orphan treatments are available in Canada compared to other countries.
To fulfill its mission, Medunik Canada is actively seeking to develop strong partnerships with non-Canadian pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies that are attempting to optimize the return on investment of their orphan drugs; they need to balance the financial risks and complexities associated to the introduction and distribution of their products on the small-size Canadian market. Through in-licensing partnerships, Medunik Canada offers turn-key operations - ranging from regulatory approval strategy to post-approval activities - to assure the commercial success of the partners' novel orphan treatments. "Our long-standing success in specialty markets, coupled with our solid and independent financial backing, our infrastructure and our dedication to small-size vulnerable populations makes Medunik Canada the missing piece of our potential partners' global orphan drug strategy," concluded Éric Gervais.
Medunik Canada is working with an advisory committee composed of Abbey S. Meyers, founder and Past President of the US National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), Marlene E. Haffner, M.D., M.P.H., former FDA's Director of Orphan Product Development and Jean F. Campbell, Former Vice-President, Membership Development at NORD.
"I am very pleased to help Medunik Canada in its efforts to meet the medical needs of Canadian rare disease patients. Canada is one of the few industrialized countries that still do not have comprehensive orphan drug legislation. As a result, important orphan therapies that are currently available in the United States, European and Asian countries are not readily available to Canadians with rare diseases. Medunik Canada is committed to addressing these issues, and I am very pleased to help them with the knowledge and expertise I have acquired over the years" said Abbey Meyers.
"The Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders (CORD) is very encouraged by the entry of Medunik Canada into the Canadian rare disease landscape," said Durhane Wong-Rieger, president of CORD. As Canada's national network for individuals and organizations representing the 28,000 Canadians diagnosed with a rare disease, CORD has long been concerned that less than one-third of orphan drugs are brought to Canada, which means Canadians with rare diseases do not get access to the same new and often life-saving therapies as patients in other countries. We realize the challenge of serving small patient populations and appreciate greatly the commitment of a Canadian-based company to undertaking this endeavour. We in turn are committed to working with Medunik Canada to identify and reach the rare diseases community. It is important for this underserved population, those with a diagnosis and those yet to be diagnosed have access to treatments for rare diseases. CORD's mission is to be a strong common voice to advocate for a health policy and a healthcare system that addresses the vital needs of the Canadian rare disease community. Therefore we applaud Medunik Canada's commitment to establish relationships that will bring new treatments to Canada for this medically unique population."