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New Regulated Medicines Intermediary and Social Enterprise Dubbed the New ‘Legal’ Dallas Buyers Club is Making Medical History

New Regulated Medicines Intermediary and Social Enterprise Dubbed the New ‘Legal’ Dallas Buyers Club is Making Medical History
22 October 2018 James Brooke

A new social enterprise is making medical history with its vision to make newly developed medicines for life-threatening and debilitating conditions accessible to people around the world, at the same time, no matter where they live.

TheSocialMedwork, a new regulated medicines intermediary that allows patients to access medicines that are not currently available in their own country, has been dubbed the new online Dallas Buyers Club.

In the movie, the character Ron Woodroof resorts to illegally importing medicines for himself and a club of patients dying from AIDS in the 1980s – medicines that the US regulatory authorities had not approved in the US.

However, this is where the similarity between the movie and the website definitely end because what the TheSocialMedwork is doing is perfectly legal.

TheSocialMedwork allows patients to order the latest overseas-approved medicines (currently unavailable in their country) by using existing personal importation laws. A prescription from a treating doctor is required and must be delivered to the patient’s nominated pharmacy or hospital.

The company encourages conversations between the patient and their doctor about treatments that have been approved and are available in other countries and already has customers in 70 countries. It lists 60 new medicines on it’s website across oncology, neurology, infectious diseases and rheumatology amongst others.

This is good news for patients in the UK who can access life-changing drugs before they’re available via the NHS or private healthcare practitioners.

TheSocialMedwork’s most popular drug to date is the new migraine prevention drug, Aimovig (erenumab), which has been available for people in the UK to order online with a prescription since the 8th June after it was first approved by the FDA. It could be over a year until the drug is even considered for the NHS.

Other relevant UK examples include lumacaftor/ivacaftor (Orkambi) for cystic fibrosis and ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) for primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

TheSocialMedwork is the brainchild of Sjaak Vink (a Dutch entrepreneur, healthcare innovator and social activist) and Jamie Heywood (Founder and Chairman of the largest online patient community in the world – Patients Like Me).

They were joined by Bernard Muller (himself an ALS patient and founder of Project MinE the biggest ALS genetic data collection program ever created) and Katrin Schepp (Attorney at Law, who lost her father to cancer).

They all saw people close to them suffer from delays in access to new treatments and came together with one vision – to create a third way, a universal healthcare service that bridges the gaps in existing care for everyone, everywhere.

TheSocialMedwork founder Sjaak Vink says: “Delays between first approval and availability for new drugs can be months to years and this will certainly only increase in the wake of a no-deal Brexit.

“Jamie Heywood and I both sadly lost friends and family members due to the inaccessibility of new medicines and no one else should have to suffer because of bureaucracy and arbitrary decisions.

“Our pledge is to make medicines accessible to all people around the world at the same time and to deliver the lowest public prices possible. We believe that health is the most critical human right, and this is something we’ll continue to champion.”

Doctors, NHS bosses and pharmaceutical companies have all warned that patients could face interruptions in access to medicines as a result of a no-deal or hard Brexit.

However, TheSocialMedwork works in accordance with the UK government’s Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), meaning it can legally help individual patients to import medicines without the need to travel to another country for treatment. No other organisation is doing this today.

This is because TheSocialMedwork has the medicine intermediary licence and works with  a number of pharmacy partners, which enables the company to buy and sell medicines within the EU for individual patient use.

This licence was created in the Netherlands by law in 2012, implemented from an EU Directive and the Dutch company TheSocialMedwork made medical history by becoming one of the first holders of this licence and the first and only organisation using it to support individual patient importation.

Typically, wholesalers, who currently act as the main suppliers of clinics, hospitals and other medical care providers, and pharmaceutical companies are not allowed to sell medicines to individuals and this is where TheSocialMedwork fills an essential gap in the market. It also allows doctors to prescribe the medicine which they think provides the best treatment option to their patient and uphold the principles behind the Hippocratic Oath, which drives medical best practice to this day.

According to the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) there is no requirement for a member of the public to notify them of the importation of medicines for personal use and legislation does not restrict such importation. Consequently, no licence, certificate or authorisation is issued to or needed by recipients.

The person receiving the medication needs to have a prescription and letter from a resident doctor stating the name of the patient and the intended use and that the supply of medicine is only for 3 – 6 months.

TheSocialMedwork sources medicines from GDP compliant suppliers across the world but tends to work with new medicines that hold the most value for patients. However, TheSocialMedwork can work to source any medicine (as long as it’s not a generic) that a patient needs and cannot yet access in the UK, or their country, upon request.

For more information about TheSocialMedwork, please visit.


For further press information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Jane Eggleton/Yasmine Triana/Charlotte Wright
Rooster PR
T: +44 (0)20 3440 8924
E: [email protected]

About TheSocialMedwork
TheSocialMedwork is an online platform where patients and doctors can source a newly approved medicine that is currently unavailable to them and have it delivered to a pharmacy or hospital in their home country. Founded in 2014, TheSocialMedwork has shipped nearly 4,000 medicines to 70 countries and currently lists 60 medications on its website, adding more regularly. TheSocialMedwork strives to make new medicines available two weeks after they are approved by a reputable medical authority.  Our focus is to solve the delay between first approval and global availability which can be as long as five years. Patients with severe conditions and progressive diseases cannot wait that long. TheSocialMedwork helps people access new medicines that have the potential to make a positive impact on their health, life expectancy and quality of life. The team delivers newly approved medicines around the world every day.

As a social enterprise startup the organisation is committed to its mission of making the best healthcare options accessible to everyone. The platform was founded when Sjaak Vink and Jamie Heywood — Founder and Chairman of the largest online patient community in the world Patients Like Me — both lost friends and family members to diseases due to a nonsensical reason: the inaccessibility of new medicines; a problem that could be solved. They were joined by Bernard Muller, co-founder of the world’s largest genetic data collection program Project MinE who had just been diagnosed with ALS himself, and Attorney-at-Law Katrin Schepp whose father passed away of cancer. The organisation’s first angel investor was acclaimed Silicon Valley healthcare investor-activist Esther Dyson.