Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist July 2016 Contents Australian Pharmacist July 2016 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
In 2004 AFT moved to developing its
own products. Initially the company
focussed on pain medicines
‘I thought that rather than criticise
things it was better to look at alternative
analgesics and that’s what started
our drug development work really,’
Dr Atkinson said.
Maxigesic, a combination of ibuprofen
and paracetamol, was his first product.
‘It was a particularly suitable product
because there were some quite
successful products in South Africa that
were combinations of paracetamol,
ibuprofen and codeine. I thought it
better to have a similar product but just
leave the codeine out.
‘ We started to do the manufacturing
and then we scraped together enough
money to do the first clinical studies.
‘It was all funded on a shoestring which
I guess with perfect 20:20 hindsight
probably wasn’t the ideal way,’ he said.
Anyone who has seen the pharmacy
media advertisements for AFT products
could easily assume that AFT is a
one‐man show. They would be very
wrong. If anything it is a family affair.
Marree Atkinson is also heavily involved
in the company. Hartley said she has
been involved since day one.
‘I found that very, very helpful. You can’t
do everything yourself. Having good
staff is important. Having your wife
there is even better because you know
you can rely on family. (Marree is the
Company’s Chief of Staff and oversees
staff, commercial contracts, and
‘My father‐in‐law was one of my
first reps and he still works for me.
My mother‐in‐law is one of our clinical
trial monitors. So I also have family
involved as well.’
A positive future
While many in the pharmaceutical
industry have been pessimistic
about the future, Dr Atkinson is
He believes there is no reason for
negativity as the health sector is
independent of economic cycles.
And, the population is not getting
any younger and this gives pharma
enormous opportunities for innovation.
Not one to talk without action, he has
invested heavily in research and
development. In 2016 he increased
investment in R&D by 46%. AFT now
has 12 clinical trials around the world
planned this year for Maxigesic, as well
as in dermatology, cold and flu and the
company’s drug delivery device.
Dr Atkinson believes AFT will grow to
around a couple of hundred million
dollars within five years, but most of that
will be sales around the world.
He told Australian Pharmacist AFT always
made a profit in the early days, ‘but in
the past year or so we decided we want
to accelerate R&D.’
‘ This has meant this last year and this
current year we will run at a loss but we
see that basically in financial year 2018
we’re expecting to break even and after
that we’ll be into profit.
‘It’s about working to get the income
to come back in, the income rises and
that makes the R&D which is about
$11 million a year pretty sustainable
Dr Atkinson is enthusiastic about
having more pharmaceutical research
competed in Australasia.
He says research is big business in
Europe and the United States.
‘I would hope that there is a lot more
potential for people to do a lot more
of this work in Australia and NZ. We’ve
got very good science and a very good
pharmacy basis. It’s a shame we don’t
‘It would be nice to do more and more,
because there is no reason we can’t.
If you think though the whole thing,
that’s part of the whole feeding chain.
‘It’s more important to have [locally
owned] pharma companies down this
end of the world. That’s the end game.
It’s pretty important.
‘Otherwise the benefits are going
elsewhere. We’re doing the hard work
and someone else in the US is reaping all
‘We’ve seen hugely successful
companies – CSL have done incredibly
well. Mayne pharma have done really
well – it’s about trying to get more and
more of that as opposed to doing other
Marree and Hartley Atkinson
It’s more important
to have [locally owned]
pharma companies down
this end of the world. That’s
the end game. It’s pretty
Links Archive Australian Pharmacist June 2016 Australian Pharmacist August 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page