INSPIRED BY KIWI INNOVATION
The key to AFT Pharmaceuticals' success has been creating the intellectual property behind many of their products through patents and trademarks.
Husband and wife team, Dr Hartley Atkinson and Marree Atkinson, started AFT Pharmaceuticals (AFT) in their home garage.
Last year financial year the NZX and ASX listed company earned revenue of NZ$81.9M* and has a market capitalisation of around NZ$250M.
This proves that Kiwi companies can become global players in their respective industry while being headquartered in the Grow North Innovation District.
Dr Atkinson reflects on AFT’s small beginnings, “When we started in 1997 it was just Marree and I. Twenty years later, we have 92 staff, offices in Auckland, Sydney and Kuala Lumpur, our painkiller Maxigesic is licensed in 124 countries, with a strong product pipeline. We’re running all of this out of Takapuna and frankly, why not because this is a beautiful part of the world to live in.”
The size and reach of the big international pharmaceutical companies makes pharmaceuticals a very competitive business. Dr Atkinson says that the key to AFT’s success has been creating the intellectual property behind many of their products through patents and trademarks.
“We exploit niche opportunities that big pharma companies can miss, we invest heavily in our R&D and while we manufacture and sell globally, we’ve managed to keep the intellectual property here in New Zealand.”
AFT believes the key to improving people’s health lies in innovation.
R&D in pharmaceuticals can take two forms: Developing and licensing new drugs and devices and making existing products better. AFT does both: Having produced new products like Maxigesic and the Maxiclear range that have been licensed around the world. Existing treatments like Crystaderm has been improved upon and is now the market leading first-aid treatment product in New Zealand.
Despite the international success, Dr Atkinson is quick to acknowledge the role local support has played for AFT.
“In many ways, AFT only exists today because pharmacists supported our products when Marree and I were on the road selling them back when we started the business. That support has remained in place. Of course efficacy and price are important, but anecdotally we know there is a lot of support for us because we’re a Kiwi company and we develop our own products here. That means a lot to us and we’re really grateful for the support.”
With the guiding principle to do things better than they have been done before AFT will continue to develop innovative products that help people.
*Current revenue was NZ$81.9M with 66% being ex NZ
Grow North articles are written by CEOs that call the Grow North Innovation District home. Edited by Kel Marsh. A free service.
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