Drug developers – for a brighter future: Work practice program at Herantis Pharma

Suvi Laitinen 06.10.2017

9th grade schoolgirl Suvi completed her work practice program at Herantis Pharma in October 2017. Let’s hear what she learned:

Did you ever wonder how many people were involved in the planning and manufacturing of a simple painkiller? What about those very expensive drugs for rare diseases? And worst of all, drugs that still don’t exist to treat incurable progressive diseases; how much money and effort will they take?

After a week in work practice program at Herantis Pharma I know for sure that medical amounts, which means even more than astronomic amounts, of money, trouble, and working time will be needed. That all is necessary to develop efficacious treatments for those difficult diseases.

Imagine for a moment what life would be with constant pain and an aesthetic tumbler, or motoric symptoms that crush your quality of living.

Still today in 2017 many of those who have been through breast cancer surgery suffer from lymphedema, which causes the first of the above-mentioned symptoms. Lymphedema cannot be cured and it will last for the rest of one’s life.

A brain degenerative disease called Parkinson’s disease causes damage in cells deep in the brains. Those cells are needed to produce a transmitter chemical, which is called dopamine. The disease causes motoric symptoms such as tremors and stiffness, which lead to unfair suffering and a huge impact on the quality of life.

Herantis Pharma Plc fights these two diseases with novel biological, enormously complex drugs. Both drug substances have passed preclinical studies (and samples are stored in ultra cold freezers) and clinical studies have been started. Teleconferences in this team of experts, and with organizations offering different kinds of expertise, tell of this new stage in development that has been planned and looked forward to for years.

A small team of experts has to buy studies from other companies because a small company does not have the resources to do everything on its own. And that requires money. The world is a sad place in the regard that drug development will not be finished without investors. Fortunately also this seems to be in order at Herantis ☺

Regulations require that all the money that drug developer companies receive from investors and others who fund scientific research, such as the EU, must be reported in detailed documents. Also all scientific research and therefore all drug development comes with a huge amount of evidence because new research must be scientifically bullet-proof. A storage room tells of this, keeping so many binders, records and financial reports, waiting for the moment when the tax authority or medicines agency knocks on the door.

In addition to archiving my tasks included recycling of old ink cartridges, (all those reports must be printed with something) ordering of office supplies, writing of dish washer instructions, arranging the office after relocation, participating in meetings by listening, and learning from professionals by asking. I learned a lot about working in general and had many good new experiences.

I spent a lovely week and will miss the friendly and patient professionals, the good food and the opportunity to learn more about drug development, this so complex and meaningful science that changes the world.

With many thanks,

Suvi Laitinen

Thank you Suvi for your cheerfulness, great working attitude, healthy curiosity, and the delicious chocolate muffins!