Contraceptive pill from Liège-based biopharma company, Mithra, wins ‘essenscia Innovation Award 2019’


This year, the biannual essenscia Innovation Award, Belgium's most prestigious prize for industrial innovation, went to Mithra, the Liège-based biopharma company, for their development of Estelle, the first contraceptive pill based on the natural hormone estetrol. This hormone is produced during pregnancy in the liver of the human foetus. Mithra has been successful in reproducing estetrol. Meanwhile, clinical tests have been completed on 4,000 patients. The results are excellent: Estelle is efficient, safe and has fewer side effects.

Mithra's Managing Director, François Fornieri, is clearly delighted about this new-generation contraceptive pill, which has been developed in Belgium and will also be produced here, predominantly for worldwide export. The company is now in its final phase of approval and awaits the go-ahead from European and American regulatory agencies. It is expected that this medicine with much potential will be a boost to the Belgian economy.

It's also great news all round for Mithra. The company wins 30,000 euros, is likely to see its staff grow from 200 to 300 by 2020, and has two other estetrol-based products at the ready, which ease the symptoms of the menopause.

Beaulieu International Group, Eastman Chemical Company, Eurogentec, Janssen Pharmaceutica and Kaneka, the five other finalists, equally presented strong innovation projects.