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Douglas Pharma named biotech company of the year

Turning a profit despite the GFC, breaking new markets, creating new technologies - it's all part of the hunt to find the best of the best in bioscience, and this year the mantle of NZBIO's Company of the Year was bestowed on Douglas Pharmaceuticals.

Turning a profit despite the GFC, breaking new markets, creating new technologies - it's all part of the hunt to find the best of the best in bioscience, and this year the mantle of NZBIO's Company of the Year was bestowed on Douglas Pharmaceuticals.

Jeff Douglas and Sir Graeme Douglas

Jeff Douglas and Sir Graeme Douglas

Douglas Pharmaceuticals is one of the fastest-growing pharmaceutical development and manufacturing companies in Oceania, and according to the TIN 100 survey, earned $145 million in the last financial year, with domestic operations growing to $57 million annually.

In January, it announced it had gained FDA approval to sell its acne drug, isotretinoin, after a decade of attempts to break into the US acne medication market.

“New Zealand is continually told that it can’t have a successful pharmaceutical company,” NZBIO director Dr Paul Tan said. “But companies like Douglas Pharmaceuticals prove these people wrong. Its manufacturing and pharmaceutical science is recognised internationally and FDA approved. It’s an outstanding model of high value manufacturing that is required to lift labour productivity in New Zealand.”

It was a double win for Lower Hutt's Mesynthes, which was awarded Emerging Company of the Year and Young Biotechnologist of the Year for scientist Barnaby May.

Mesynthes is a regenerative medicine company, which has developed and is now commercialising Endoform - a unique regenerative tissue substitute that provides a biological framework for tissue regeneration.

The company targets market opportunities in active wound therapies, soft tissue reinforcement and infection control and is currently focusing on the US health care market. It plans to grow and expand internationally, while continuing to base its research and manufacturing in New Zealand.

Dr Jim Watson won the Distinguished Biotechnologist Pioneer Award for his years of work in biotech R&D, entrepreneurial skills and supporting young entrepreneurs. He has been president of The Royal Society of New Zealand, a member of the government’s Growth and Innovation Advisory Board and a trustee of the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research. After a decade as the chief executive of Genesis R&D, he launched his most recent venture, Caldera Health, a prostate cancer diagnostic business.