Women’s health is a growth industry, but medical research needs to be focused where it matters. We talk to Dr Fernand Labrie, CEO of EndoCeutics Inc. – winner of Business Worldwide’s CEO Awards 2017 in the categories of Most Innovative CEO of the Year – Canada, Healthcare CEO of the Year – Canada – about their innovations in the field of women’s health.
Women’s health and wellness is a growing industry. The Health and Wellness Industry Trend Report 2017, produced by Women’s Marketing, predicts that the global women’s wellness industry was worth $3.7 trillion in 2016, and is set to grow by 17% in the next five years.
However, much of this growth is in the fitness, beauty and supplement market. In a report by The Harvard Review called The Female Economy, despite paying more for medical insurance, the majority of women in the US, and middle-aged women in particular, expressed dissatisfaction with the medical services on offer. It seems that the medical industry has some catching up to do.
It is refreshing therefore to meet a company focused on women’s health, and on the specific issues that will affect them throughout their lives. EndoCeutics is one example – a pharmaceutical company dedicated to medical research in women’s health.
We talked to Dr Fernand Labrie, CEO of EndoCeutics Inc., about how their company is making strides in female-focused medicine.
What does EndoCeutics, Inc. do as a company?
EndoCeutics is a private pharmaceutical company operating in the field of women’s health and hormone-sensitive cancer prevention and treatment.
In November 2016, the FDA approved Intrarosa™ for the treatment of dyspareunia, the most important symptom of vulvovaginal atrophy due to menopause.
Following this success, EndoCeutics focuses on developing non-estrogen based therapies for sexual dysfunction and other symptoms of menopause, including hot flushes, osteoporosis, muscle loss and type-2 diabetes.
Hormonal therapies for breast, uterine and prostate cancer, male hypogonadism as well as endometriosis are also under development. EndoCeutics has five Phase III product candidates addressing big market opportunities and two Phase I/II product candidates.
EndoCeutics has exclusive worldwide rights to patents, patent applications, technology and know-how related to all its products.
We’re very busy, in other words, trying mainly to improve the health of women, but also male hormonal problems.
Why do you think you’ve been so successful?
We always look for clinical applications while developing and using the most effective technology. We’re never afraid of change, which I believe is the key to improved medicine.
Our overall aim is to be able to offer all women around the world the benefits of efficacious and safe treatment of menopausal problems, including hot flushes, vaginal dryness, sexual dysfunction, loss of bone, loss of muscle as well as memory and cognition loss.
We have a strong desire to move science forward to enable our fellow citizens to enjoy a better life and this will remain our ongoing goal.
Ultimately, I think it is our focus, and our advocacy of these values and aims, which are at the basis of our success.
What makes your firm unique? How do you distinguish yourselves from your competitors and present yourselves as the best option for your clients?
In addition to the discovery of medical castration and combined androgen blockade – the standard treatment of prostate cancer which continues to help millions of men worldwide – there are 32 million women in the United States alone who could benefit from IntrarosaTM, the drug previously mentioned.
This treatment uses Prasterone (DHEA), a compound without intrinsic estrogenic or androgenic activity, which is transformed intracellularly into androgens and estrogens only in the cells and vaginal layers which are physiologically in need of these sex steroids.
This innovative treatment provides a replacement for the local deficiency in sex steroids with no significant increase in circulating estrogens or androgens and consequently having neither an effect on other tissues or any safety concerns.
Additionally, positive effects are observed on the four domains of sexual dysfunction, namely desire, arousal, orgasm and pleasure; an effect secondary to local androgen formation and not found with estrogens. These observations are under further evaluation by EndoCeutics.
I think this shows we have a holistic approach to women’s health, focusing not only on symptoms, but correcting the cause of the symptoms and improving the quality of life.
You are based in Québec. What advantages does your location give you?
Well, essentially we’re working in an innovative capital bursting with creativity and boasting a strong economy based on knowledge, technology, and world-class research.
The city also possesses strong cultural and touristic sectors.
Québec City’s main strength is a specialised and highly educated workforce, which makes it one of the most competitive cities to do business.
This is definitely the right location for us and helps us make a success of what we do.
How do you use technology to ensure each project is completed to the highest possible standard?
To keep ahead of this field, we will be exploring more clinical applications using the best technology, which we largely developed. For example, the mass spectrometry-based steroid assays, which have become the gold standard in the industry.
Changes in therapeutic strategy is central to improving the lives of women across the globe, and as such, we will continue to embrace this approach as we seek to be the leaders of innovation in women’s health in the pharmaceutical market.
Have recent global social, political and economic challenges affected the infrastructure market in your region?
Yes and no. The global economic situation holds challenges for all companies.
But our main challenges are always present. From research to the application of a product within a therapeutic setting is a lengthy and meticulous process.
And one of the important, yet necessary challenges is all the phases we need to go through up to the FDA, Health Canada or other health agency approvals.
Finally, one of the biggest challenges in medical research and development is to find investment and people who believe in your project, which whilst not easy, can be achieved.
What does the future hold for EndoCeutics, Inc.?
One of our most exciting prospects is bringing IntrarosaTM to market in all countries and potentially changing the lives of millions of women around the world.
Looking to the future, we believe that the female health market will be dominated by a focus on creating novel treatments for all aspects of menopause, based upon intracrinology or the normal physiology of sex steroids.
We believe it is necessary for Canada to give strong support to the science at all levels. It is the best, if not the only way, to support and develop a competitive economy and optimise the health and quality of life of all Canadians.