The last hope for a heart patient

On a Wednesday morning in August 2009, the phone rings at the office of Medical Director Paula Rytilä at Orion’s head office in Finland. What follows is a race against time.

The call is from the Montefiore Medical Center in New York, where a patient is suffering from heart transplant rejection after surgery. The doctors believe that Simdax, a drug developed by Orion for cardiac insufficiency, could help. The problem is that it does not yet have marketing authorisation in the United States – and the patient cannot wait.

“The situation seemed impossible at first. Then I felt that I must try my best,” says Rytilä.

The FDA had already granted the hospital an emergency authorisation to use the drug, but as packets that met the requirements were available only in Europe, the fastest way to get one seemed to be to contact the manufacturer directly.

By a fortunate coincidence, Orion was preparing to start producing English-language packets for Simdax the following day. A day after the call, a courier service picks up Simdax packets from the Espoo plant in Finland, and the medicines are flown overnight across the Atlantic.

The patient begins to recover before the medicines arrive, but the express delivery helps another patient.

“Responding to special authorisation requests concerning acute treatment is a test of the speed and flexibility of Orion’s operating procedures. The people at Orion are always prepared to go to great lengths when human lives are in danger,” Rytilä explains.