Mirena has become the first ever blockbuster pharmaceutical product to be developed and manufactured in Finland, after the global sales of the family of hormone-releasing contraceptive devices reached the elusive €1-billion-mark.
The intrauterine birth control devices are manufactured exclusively in Turku, Finland, by Bayer.
Mirena is currently exported to roughly 130 countries and is one of the best-selling prescription drugs on the portfolio of the pharmaceutical and life sciences company based in Berlin, Germany.
The real innovation in the device is its polymer-based cylinder and other components that allow for the controlled release of the contraceptive hormone, levonorgestrel, tells Sampo Sammalisto, an advisor for healthtech at Finpro’s Invest in Finland.
Bayer acquired its manufacturing and research and development facilities in Turku roughly a half-a-decade before establishing its Nordic headquarters in Espoo, Finland, in 2011. It is currently operating its fourth largest clinical trial centre and investing €50 million a year in research and development activities in Finland.
Investments are the only way to keep step with the rapidly-changing industry, says Oliver Rittgen, the chief executive of Bayer Nordic. “We’re participating openly in co-operation with third parties, such as academic researchers, small and medium size enterprises and start-ups. No company today can operate in a vacuum,” he states in a recent interview with Aamuset.
Unrivalled access to patient data
Sammalisto reminds that recruiting participants for clinical trials is relatively easy in Finland: “In global comparison, Finns have a very positive opinion of research and trust researchers. Running clinical trials is consequently not as painstaking in Finland as it’s in most other countries.”
The country also boasts one of the most comprehensive electronic patient information systems in the world, thus providing researchers with access to practically unrivalled volumes of in-depth medical data.
“The availability of digital health data, combined with an innovation-friendly biobank law, makes Finland a unique environment for conducting drug target discovery and real-world evidence-based pharmaceutical research,” adds Sammalisto.