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‘Switching machine’: Maxwellia ‘poised and ready’ for more POM to P switches

Drug manufacturer Maxwellia has positioned itself as a “switching machine”, focussing on the reclassification of medicines to make them available without a prescription, it has told C+D.

Maxwellia chief executive Anna Maxwell told C+D in an exclusive interview last week (May 14) that the manufacturer’s focus has been on carving out a niche as a “switching machine”, with a particular focus on the “very underserved” women’s health market. 

"There's still a huge catalogue of prescription medicines that we can convert into products for self-care,” she said.

“This kind of work needs to be done and Maxwellia is there as a switching machine that can enable that to happen,” she added.

Read more: OTCs could be ‘profit rockets’ for pharmacies, says Maxwellia boss

Maxwellia has “created the UK’s first and only company dedicated to switching”, according to its website.

The manufacturer identifies “forgotten” prescription-only medicines (POMs) with the potential to be reclassified to over-the-counter (OTC) Pharmacy (P) status and invests in moving them through that regulatory process, it said.

When it is successful, and it is not always so, it then brings a branded product to market.

Read more: Maxwellia mulling 'next step' after oxybutynin drug reclassification rejected

“We look at medicines that are available on the back catalogue of prescription drugs to see whether there are any opportunities for us to bring them into the mainstream in OTC,” Maxwell told C+D.

Maxwellia is “always looking for potential opportunities to bring [drugs] to OTC” and is “poised and ready to be able to put more through”, she said.

 

Reducing the burden

 

Maxwell said that she sees the OTC market growing to widen access to medicines and make “more things available for those who can afford and choose to purchase or want to be in charge their own self-care”.

“The next government is going to have to decide what the NHS does, and what it doesn't do, and what the public are going to be responsible for it - because it can't continue as it is,” she told C+D.

Read more: Greater use of OTC drugs could save NHS £3.1bn per year, report claims

Seeing how Maxwellia can “help reduce some of the burden on the NHS”, as well as “getting meaningful products into the hands of people that need them”, is “what drives” her, Maxwell added.

 

Design thinking

 

Maxwell also told C+D that the company’s focus is bringing to market OTC medicines that are “easy and simple” for pharmacists and their teams to recommend with a “couple of supervisory questions”. 

She said that Maxwellia designs its products “with a consumer in mind”, adding that it aims to construct its packs so that “all the information that [a patient and pharmacist] need is on the back of the pack”. 

Read more: MHRA: Reclassification Alliance relaunch will ‘open doors’ for POM to P switches

This design ethos is aimed at fostering confidence in pharmacists to have conversations “easily” with patients, she added.

“We’ve taken all the heavy lifting out of it,” she said.

But the success of Maxwellia and other OTC manufacturers hinges on the “support of our pharmacists and pharmacy colleagues”, Maxwell added.

 

“The time is ripe”

 

It comes as the manufacturer recently introduced two products.

Evana (tranexamic acid) is used for the relief of heavy menstrual bleeding, which affects “around 30% of women”, and is the only such OTC medicine available for pharmacists to recommend, Maxwell told C+D. 

Ultravana (naproxen) is used for period pain, which affects “71% of women”, and “is more effective and a better solution than some of the existing analgesics that are on the market today,” she added.

Read more: Maxwellia launches two new pharmacy brands to help millions of women struggling with debilitating periods

The two drugs “really stood out as beacons of opportunity that were sitting there that needed to be brought for to market in this way”, she told C+D.

Maxwell said that the company’s medicines give pharmacists “more meaningful products” to recommend to patients, allowing them to help people that they “haven't been able to help before”.

She added that she felt women working in pharmacy could “resonate” with these kinds of products.

Read more: Half of pharmacies shun ‘unlikely-to-sell’ P contraceptives, research finds

“The time is ripe for these products to come to market,” she said.

In May last year, Maxwellia said it was mulling its “next step” after its oxybutynin drug reclassification was rejected by the medicines watchdog.

Speaking exclusively to C+D last week, Maxwell also said that selling OTCs can “tip the balance” for pharmacies relying too much on NHS income.

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