AFT Pharmaceuticals' focus on innovation is starting to pay off as it sees record growth internationally. 

AFT's co-founder and managing director, Hartley Atkinson, said the company was "really excited" about its international growth "because, obviously, the world's a big place".

"There's a lot of potential," Atkinson said.

Earlier on Thursday, the company reported a 27% lift in total revenue to $83.6 million for the six months to Sept 30 compared to the same period a year earlier. Net profit lifted 17% to $1.8m. 

Importantly, sales in international and Asian markets (excluding licensing income) rose 94%. 

Set apart

According to Atkinson, it's AFT's ability to re-purpose and re-design existing drugs in different ways that set the company apart from big pharma. 

Big pharma is focused on developing cancer-fighting drugs, leaving the door open for smaller players, like AFT, to drive innovation, he said.

AFT's aim is to capitalise on its point of difference by bringing new products to the local market and branching out overseas.

He noted the company recently secured Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its patented ibuprofen and paracetamol formula within its intravenous line.

He said he expects growth based on the premise the US is the largest pharmaceutical market in the world.

“Getting products approved is never really simple. The FDA is a very rigorous, rigorous regulator.”


Growth in other international markets is also strong, he said, noting its Crystaderm antiseptic cream was recently approved in China.

China is never a simple market with "very specific rules that are China-specific".

“They make the rules, and we obviously need to work within those, but it is different. So, there's a learning curve for sure," he said. 

He also said AFT had identified a stronger market in China using local e-commerce sources, such as T-mall and not cross-border e-commerce.

“The local Chinese e-commerce is much bigger ... if you use a local e-commerce, which means it's approved in China, that market is much bigger."

Some of the challenges of driving growth in China were language barriers and clinical trial data specifically for the Chinese population, which created extra work.

The effort, however, is paying off. 

Revenue in Asia was $5.4 million, up 50% on the same period a year earlier. 

Atkinson expects AFT's growth to continue in the second half.

“The ongoing rollout of Maxigesic and its line extensions and the launch of new products in Australasia, coupled with increasing rates of growth in other markets around the world, position the company well for the remainder of the financial year and beyond." 

The company maintained its guidance for operating profit of $22m to $24m for the full year.