Aussie biotech’s super condoms get green light for Japan

Aussie biotech’s super condoms get green light for Japan

March 14, 2014 – 3:22PM

Jessica Gardner

The Japanese condom market is worth $500 million a year.

Biotechnology hopeful Starpharma is set to earn first sales from its patented anti-viral and anti-bacterial gel formulation when new condoms that the company claims guard against sexually transmitted diseases hit Japanese shelves in the coming months.

Starpharma and its partner Okamoto, which accounts for 60 per cent of Japan’s $US500 million condom market, received regulatory approval to begin marketing the “added value” prophylactics, the company announced on Friday.

Chief executive Jackie Fairley said she expects the product will be available in stores in three to four months.

“This receipt of the world’s first marketing approval for a VivaGel coated condom in Japan marks a major milestone for this product and for our strategically important partnership with Okamoto,” Dr Fairley said.


A similar product marketed by Ansell is awaiting regulatory approval in Australia and could be available “within months”, Dr Fairley said. The condoms sold by Okamoto and Ansell will carry the VivaGel brand and Starpharma will receive royalties from the sales.

Dr Fairley said the regulatory approval was a huge milestone for the drug delivery company, which has earned money in the past from diagnostic products but was yet to report substantial financial results from its current development pipeline.

Starpharma has developed a synthetic polymer platform, known as a dendrimer, which can make drugs soluble in water. Within the VivaGel portfolio the company also has a product for the management of bacterial vaginosis.

Dr Fairley said although a trial investigating VivaGel’s application for symptomatic relief of the condition will be the next near term milestone, a separate trial looking at its use to prevent recurrence could be the big money spinner.

“The biggest market opportunity for that product is for prevention of recurrence for which there are no products available,” Dr Fairley said. “The market estimates for that opportunity are in excess of $1 billion.”

The Starpharma share price had gained 5.5 per cent in trading to 77¢ at 12:16pm. The stock has lost 35 per cent over the past year.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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