April 25, 2016
By Paul Perreault
Today we proudly mark CSL’s 100th anniversary, a milestone that is a testament to our values, science, people, and the patients we serve. For the past 100 years our vision, focus and agility have remained steadfast, enabling us to accomplish this feat. We have a rich heritage with an even brighter future. In many ways, we’re just getting started.
As a tangible expression of our values in action, and as a way of celebrating the CSL Centenary, we are establishing a $25 million R&D Fellowship program for early stage and translational research. The R&D Fellowship reflects the promise we made a century ago to save lives and protect people’s health.
Where it all began
That promise first took shape in 1916 when Dr. William Penfold opened the doors of CSL (Commonwealth Serum Laboratories) in Melbourne to ensure Australia had its own uninterrupted supply of important medicines in the midst of the world war. Since then, we have grown into a global biotherapeutics leader with a patient-centric focus and a unique combination of R&D focus, operational excellence and commercial strength that enables us to consistently identify, develop, and dependably deliver innovations that patients with life-threatening conditions need.
Today, that very same promise, which started a century ago, is stronger and more vibrant than ever. We now provide life-saving biotherapies to people in more than 60 countries. Our 16,000 people are driven by a deep passion and commitment to serve thousands and thousands of patients who depend on us to live their lives to the fullest.
We’ve been able to sustainably deliver on our promise because innovation is at the heart of everything we do – all across our company. Innovation is reflected in our unique capability in creating one of the world’s largest and most efficient plasma collection networks to obtain the important raw material required to produce our biotherapies. Innovation also is reflected in how we safely and effectively produce medicines for a range of serious medical conditions. And, innovation is certainly reflected in our 1,100 dedicated R&D experts who focus on solving patients’ unmet needs every day.
Innovating for optionality and convenience
Emerging innovations and support programs promise to provide new opportunities to improve patient well-being — unlike any other time in history. We see the opportunity to develop biotherapies that offer greater optionality and convenience, and there is an increasing trend toward the use of recombinant therapies in developed markets.
In fact, CSL has several new recombinants for the treatment of bleeding disorders, which are designed for greater molecular stability and extended half-life. This is welcome news for hemophilia patients who dose several times a week and whose dosing intervals may now be extended — providing a transformative change to patients’ lifestyles.
Another potential game-changer is a novel drug called CSL 112 . While most people survive their first heart attack, it is often the second or recurring heart attacks that can be fatal. CSL 112 is an investigational compound being studied in acute coronary syndrome to prevent early recurrent events following a heart attack. It is currently being evaluated in a Phase 2B trial for heart attack patients, designed to rapidly stabilize cholesterol plaque and reduce the risk of early recurrent cardiovascular events.
In influenza vaccines, protecting the young and elderly – the most vulnerable to influenza — has never been more important. The world’s population continues to grow at a rate of more than 150,000 people per day and people are living longer lives, too. CSL has a long history with influenza, starting with protecting Australians from the Spanish Flu during World War I. Today, outstanding advancements are well underway around the world to better protect people from influenza.
Looking ahead, outstanding opportunities to improve patient well-being remain. This is especially relevant when it comes to Translational Research — when scientific knowledge can be translated for practical applications. That’s when science can help address some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Today, CSL is at the forefront of Translational Research in our sector, and we are excited at the possibilities that may become reality as a result of the R&D Fellowship program.
In March we announced that CSL’s Global Research and Translational Medicine Hub will be housed at the University of Melbourne’s globally-recognized Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute. This strategic partnership will provide an expanded base for new collaborations both in Australia and other parts of the world.
Driven to care for patients
While a lot has changed at CSL since 1916, one thing has remained constant: our focus on patients. We have earned a reputation over the years as a passionate yet responsible organization driven to care for patients — and always putting patients first. Thanks to applied science, our patients today are living longer, healthier and more productive lives than ever before.
But there’s more work to be done – especially in helping to raise awareness of serious diseases and the importance of early diagnosis. For example, as World Federation of Hemophilia CEO Alain Baumann stated in a recent interview with BioBlog, 75% of the people with blood disorders are either undertreated or not treated at all. So, we work closely with the patient advocacy community to find ways to raise awareness of serious medical conditions and encourage the right conversations with healthcare professionals to prompt early diagnosis and timely treatment.
As CSL begins our second century, our promise to save lives and protect the health of people gets stronger by the day. To me, this is all personal. I ask our people to work every day as if somebody’s life depends on it — because it does. I can’t think of a better motivator.
Paul Perreault is CEO and Managing Director of CSL, CSL Behring’s parent company.