Conversation with Paola Fasola, Senior Scientific Advisor & Marketing Manager at IBSA Group22 July 2020
How can nature act as a source of inspiration in the production of medicines, and what is different about the therapeutic products that spring from this inspiration?
A good place to start is with a claim such as “Inspired by Nature”, which is at the basis of the philosophy of IBSA. These three apparently simple words indicate a company that takes human nature and the physiological model as inspiration for the creation of new products, especially in the field of fertility and endocrinology, bearing witness to the constant search for formulations that mimic what already exists in nature, in its original form.
Conversation with Paola Fasola, Senior Scientific Advisor & Marketing Manager, IBSA Strategic Marketing. “Taking inspiration from nature means, for example, formulating a drug with as few excipients as possible, reducing the risk of intolerance and allergy reactions, and at the same time optimising the effectiveness of the active ingredient.”
The continuous search for formulations that offer alternatives to those that already exist and enhance the release of the active ingredient has led IBSA to become a pioneer in the field of luteal support (a phase of medically assisted procreation or MAP): “The creation of an aqueous formulation of progesterone that can be injected subcutaneously by the patient herself for the first time was a huge step forward,” says Paola Fasola.
This is one of many discoveries 'Inspired by Nature': 'IBSA's aqueous formulation of progesterone reopens the possibility of administering this hormone systemically, but without the negative effects of the deep intramuscular pathway, i.e. pain and sterile abscesses. As a result, patients clearly have greater incentives to self-administer on a daily basis and physicians can count on a precise and predictive therapeutic tool'. In other words, it means caring not only about the success of the therapy, but also about patient well-being during treatment, which has been one of IBSA’s goals since it was founded.
What matters is the person, not just the medicine.
“So that in the end, day by day, the workplace, the company, becomes the centre of the world. It may be a cliché, but changes in the business model, organisational protocols, the performance of tasks or the company context have as much impact on people as the events that make up each of our private lives. Knowing that the company for which you work also considers this aspect in defining its strategies is reassuring.”
In her 11 years spent amidst the company's ranks, in constant contact with the world of fertility and endocrinology as head of scientific communication for these two areas, Paola Fasola has experienced an epochal change; the last step of transformation from chrysalis to butterfly! As Paola puts it herself, “I’ve experienced the creation of a definitively more modern and global organisational system and I've witnessed exponential growth of IBSA personnel and branches around the world. Above all, I’ve experienced an evolution: a change in the strategic outlook of the company and the department of which I am part. With our Manager (editor’s note: Silvio Dionisi, Head of IBSA Strategic Marketing), over the years we’ve laid the foundations on which to build a solid and reliable scientific image and today we’re starting to reap the fruits of our labour.”
The change has been visible, even from the outside. “Our image has changed, it has taken on a shape and above all a very garish colour. We use magenta, which is a banner of courage and one that stands out from the many companies with a classic “pharma” façade of blue, light blue and grey!”.
The visibility initiatives put in place by IBSA don't stop with the colour palette, though.
“For years we’ve been in touch and in dialogue with the major scientific societies and today we're proud to announce the birth of our own valuable scientific creation, the IBSA Narture International Summit on Human Reproductive Medicine: Narture represents the perfect marriage between Science, Art and Human Nature, condensing into three days of science the progress in assisted reproduction technologies, major ethical issues and a cross-section on the epidemiological evolution of society. In the field of endocrinology, too, we plan to take a similar path. Starting with a portfolio of decidedly innovative products for the treatment of hypothyroidism, we’re making headway in the sector, focusing on scientific image and projects involving patients, doctors and opinion leaders.”
All in the name of innovation, which at IBSA is also known as perfection. Thanks to the company's in-depth knowledge of its markets and continuous research into new discoveries for doctors and the best outcomes for patients, its entire pharmaceutical development and clinical research facility is constantly called upon to improve existing formulations of known substances or create new ones. IBSA therefore has a strong manufacturing connotation, whilst at the same time expanding and optimising its quality system to increase its commercial supply chain.
“Our company is a fast and reliable Swiss train always heading towards new destinations and new products to create, with a real competitive advantage: the people who are conducting it and those who keep it moving each and every day,” concludes Paola Fasola.