Stratpharma, a small pharmaceuticals company based in Bâle, specializes in dermatological silicone gels. Two of Stratpharma’s new products have been enthusiastically embraced by doctors and researchers worldwide. Both have the potential to revolutionize current treatment methods.
The employees at Stratpharma in Basel don’t need their own watches. A glance out of the office window and they can see the two giant clocks on the adjacent railroad station. Below, the green Basel streetcars traverse the central railroad square, and people swarm across the square hurrying to and from the trains. „We fit in well in this busy, international environment”, says Darren Kerr with a smile. He is the Australian founder and CEO of Stratpharma. In fact, the company he founded in 2005 is perfectly aligned for international business, and his 15-member team is a potpourri of nationalities. The eight employees at Basel headquarters speak a total of seven languages fluently.
Medical Applications of Silicone
In contrast Stratpharma’s products are all based on one and the same base material: silicone. Silicone is used in many areas of life, from foodstuffs technology to construction to pharmaceuticals. Originally a marketing specialist, Darren Kerr initially became intensively involved with silicon during the 2000s in the area of wound healing. He participated in medical conferences, spoke with doctors and polymer chemists and was able to find out directly from them what they needed. “I was fortunate to be able to communicate first-hand with experts in the field of wound healing. And the doctors were happy to share their ideas with someone who could have them bring their ideas to the market.” The small Bâle pharmaceutical company has now licensed five products for sale, two new products are scheduled for 2013, and six more should follow in the near future. The oldest Stratpharma product, which is already well established, is Strataderm, a gel for scars that is now licensed for sale in more than 60 countries. There are other products competing in the field of treatment and care of scars, however, which is not the case for StrataXRT and Stratamark. There are no comparable products in the field of wound healing and repair. StrataXRT is a gel used with cancer patients receiving radiation treatment. 65% of these patients suffer from what is known as radiodermatitis. This skin condition can become so severe that ongoing radiation treatments must be interrupted. Darren Kerr explained, “StrataXRT protects the skin better and extends the time before massive skin irritation occurs. This buys time to finish rounds of treatment.” He continued enthusiastically, “This product performed very well in the studies. We’re all really excited about the good results.”
Research Using Stratpharma Products
An extensive research program using Stratpharma products is coordinated from their offices in Bâle. Twenty different protocols for clinical studies are currently running worldwide in 160 locations, with more than 6,000 patients involved in these studies. The results will be published in leading medical journals. The enthusiasm is palpable, not only on the part of Darren Kerr but his employees as well, when they talk about these studies. Stratamark, the second Stratpharma product with no competition, also came out well. This silicone gel is designed to prevent and treat the stretch marks that frequently occur during pregnancy. „When I talk to gynecologists and dermatologists, they are delighted that there is finally something that actually works“, says Kerr. Successful studies and positive reports in medical journals are absolutely necessary if Stratpharma is to survive as a small company. This year their products are already being marketed in China, Brazil, and South Africa, and Russia, the US, South Korea, and Turkey should follow soon. Such rapid expansion in their first years of existence was greatly aided by the venture capital provided to Stratpharma by Credit Suisse Entrepreneur Capital Ltd. The goal was to develop a small group of products quickly to marketability and establish them in smaller markets in order to achieve sustainable profitability. „Today we are at a point where we want to develop a lineup of new products to marketability and press ahead with global expansion. The new focus will be on the major markets – the US, Japan and Western Europe”, Darren Kerr reports as he glances at the giant railroad station clock. In a few hours, he will be flying to London with promising silicone products in his luggage.