DURHAM – “The future of biopharma is in females,” says Mycovia Pharmaceuticals’ chief executive officer, Patrick Jordan.
This week, Jordan represented his Durham company at the BIO Digital panel, “Redefining BioPharma in a Female-Forward World.” The hour-long conversation among four women’s health experts uncovered how women have often been underserved in the healthcare industry and how the panelists are working to change that.
According to Jordan, women in the United States make 80 percent of the health decisions in the home, but women’s diseases are regularly undiscussed and underdiagnosed. In fact, half of women in the U.S. don’t discuss their healthcare concerns with their doctors.
“Women have a historic role as caretakers, but women must be nurtured too, and that’s what we are here to do,” says Jordan.
Yeast infections cause vaginal itching, burning, soreness, and inflammation. Having three or more of these each year, categorized as RVVC, affects a woman’s quality of life. Mycovia’s business model ties in its pharmaceutical roots with its passion for empowering women. Today, the company is focused on its VT-1161 drug treating recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC), or persistent yeast infections. RVVC affects nearly 138 million women each year, with numbers expected to grow by 20 million in the next decade.
“The physical symptoms of RVVC are the easiest ones to understand,” Jordan said in a follow-up interview with the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. “But it is also severely emotional. Women describe it as a never-ending battle, sometimes ending up with deep depression and isolation.”
The social and psychological limitations it puts on women impact relationships, ability to work, and self-image. He recounts that $14 billion of productivity is lost each year from RVVC patients while there is no treatment.
Alongside successful clinical trials, the company has an active role in the local community. Mycovia supports Ramblin’ Rose Women’s Events, produced by Set Up Events, to “Celebrate the Empowerment of Women,” and Charlotte-based Girls on the Run, both of which strive to promote healthy mindsets through physical activity. The company also participate in backpack buddies for Durham’s public schools, including Eastway Elementary.This year, VT-1161 entered Phase 3 clinical trials. Mycovia expects to receive FDA approval in 2021, providing the first and only drug treating RVVC in the U.S.
Jordan believes that pharmaceutical companies aren’t just in the healthcare business, but the “people” business. They have a role in how people feel about themselves, so it is important to speak up.
Tiffany Ahlers, senior vice president of commercialization, attributes Mycovia’s success to the vibrant community of Research Triangle Park. She describes its “strong entrepreneurial aspect with a high volume of local talent,” as well as support organizations such as Women in Bio and NCBiotech.
(C) N.C. Biotech Center