More than 7.8 million women around the country rely on public health clinics, which offer important family planning services. Changes in the pharmaceutical industry over the past decade, including mergers and acquisitions and lower margins, have affected the availability and cost of oral contraceptives. With this supply-constrained environment, public health clinics have been struggling to provide affordable products to its clients.
“By providing oral contraceptives at a price those clinics can afford, it allows them to offer quality services and care to women who can’t get care anywhere else,” says Ronda Dean, Chief Executive Officer of Afaxys, Inc. Afaxys is a new company that received start-up funding through a program-related investment (PRI) from the Packard Foundation. “That’s why we exist, for those 7.8 million women—so that no matter where they go for care, there’s an affordable contraceptive available to them, and a provider who can afford to make it available to them.”
The company was created to respond directly to the needs of the clinics it serves. With start-up funding from more than 40 family planning providers and supporters, Afaxys uses a group-purchasing approach to negotiate lower prices on medical equipment and pharmaceuticals on the clinics’ behalf. In addition, Afaxys Pharmaceuticals, a subdivision of Afaxys, Inc., introduced a new generic oral contraceptive that is available only to the public health sector, allowing clinics to pass on the savings to the women they serve.
The Foundation’s PRI provided $5 million in seed capital for the new organization as well as a much needed vote of confidence in the soundness of Afaxys’s approach. A portion of the PRI also allowed the company to raise additional funds from other supporters.
Dean sees the PRI from the Packard Foundation as means to achieve a shared vision of “affordable access” to family planning services for all women in this country. “Packard [Foundation] has the means. Afaxys has the expertise to solve a problem in the market. And the public health community is making sure that products and services reach the women who need them.”