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Peter Turner and CSL Behring Featured in Immunews

King of Prussia, PA — 25 October 2010

Peter Turner wasn’t always president of a global company that makes lifesaving plasma-derived and recombinant therapies. First and foremost, he was and still is a plasma therapeutics expert at heart whose knowledge encompasses plasma fractionation, R&D, production and engineering.

Since earning Bachelor of Science degrees in chemistry, biochemistry and microbiology and an MBA in his native Australia, the president of CSL Behring, headquartered in King of Prussia, PA, has compiled more than 40 years of experience in the biotherapeutics industry. Peter served on the Board of Directors of the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association for 10 years including four as Chairman.

Recently IMMUNEWS asked Peter what drives his passion for plasma protein biotherapeutics. His perspectives on people and health care are revealing and refreshing. CSL Behring makes innovative plasma-derived and recombinant therapies that treat rare and serious diseases including Primary Immunodeficiency (PI). Over the years Peter has had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and see, firsthand, the difference these life-saving therapies or the lack of them can have. One such story involves a young girl who was in a sports competition for student-athletes with rare diseases.

“I was introduced to her and her mother,” Peter recalls, “She’d been treated for one disease but still wasn’t doing well.” As told to Peter, it turned out the youngster also had undiagnosed PI. “Once the correct diagnosis was made and she was placed on immunoglobulin (Ig) therapy, she did really well.”

A culture of compassion

“It’s very inspiring,” Peter says, “to meet the patients who use our products and their families. If we ever need a reminder of the importance of what we do, it’s in the faces of the people we help with our medicines. The case of this girl was especially rewarding because she and her mother were quite thankful her condition was not only diagnosed, but that we could provide products to make her healthy.”

“Working with serious, and in many cases unmet medical needs, our mantra has always been to save lives and enhance the well-being of patients,” Peter says of CSL Behring, which traces its beginnings to the 1904 founding of Behringwerke, a company established by Emil von Behring. (Dr. von Behring was the first recipient of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology.) “That’s where we’ve come from,” Peter continues. “That’s what we know.”

Leading a normal life

In Peter Turner’s view, it’s all about the choices in treatment that are available to patients. “We try to provide options for people who have PI,” he says. “One of those choices is subcutaneous infusion, which we believe is much more suited to PI therapy and self-infusion, particularly for those people who have time constraints or are located a long way from clinics.”

CSL Behring was the first company to bring subcutaneous Ig products to market. These self-infused medicines give people with PI a much greater degree of independence. “We believe that it’s essential to continue to provide similar advances so that patients can get as close as possible to leading a normal life.”

Innovation drives the business

Innovation has long been one of CSL Behring’s core values and a driving force behind the development of its medicines. The company continually invests in emerging technologies to develop new products and improve existing therapies.

As an example, Peter points to the innovative technologies in Ig manufacturing the company introduced in its Center for Excellence for Ig in Bern, Switzerland, that increase the yield of Ig per liter of plasma. Increasing the company’s capacity to make more Ig, ensures reliability of supply and gives patients greater access to important therapies. CSL Behring received the Swiss government’s Tell Award for “significant innovative technology” in the Bern facility for this leading-edge technology and therapy.

Product output doubles

Peter is proud of how CSL Behring has developed in the last five or so years. During that time the company has more than doubled its product output. “We have some exciting products in development that I believe our customers will be thrilled about should they be successful.” Peter emphasizes that CSL Behring’s products are driven by its customers. “We listen to patients,” he says.

Partnerin g with patient groups

CSL Behring partners with a number of patient organizations, such as the Jeffrey Modell Foundation (JMF), advocating for access to health care and working together to achieve better results. “The Jeffrey Modell Foundation is remarkable,” Peter observes. “What Vicki and Fred Modell have been able to achieve is just staggering to me. It shows what can be done if you have passion and believe in what you’re doing. They’ve been tireless advocates for testing and diagnosis of children and adults with persistent serious infections, and have done a tremendous job creating awareness of PI and attracting the interest of scientists.”

CSL Behring has shown its support by providing funding for Jeffrey Modell Diagnostic and Research Centers around the world, among other corporate responsibility initiatives.

Patients advocate for change

Beyond the actual therapies manufactured by the company, Peter says CSL Behring helps people share in the healthcare needs debate through programs such as Raise Your Voice! and Local Empowerment for Advocacy Development (LEAD) grants, which help patients advocate for healthcare policy change. “We support patients and their families in making positive changes in their communities.” CSL Behring’s Voice-to-Voice program features Ig patients who mentor new patients in how to correctly use the therapy, which helps them achieve greater freedom more quickly.

“CSL Behring provides reimbursement services to ensure that people do not get lost in the myriad of demands that are placed on them by the healthcare system,” Peter says. “For patients with serious medical conditions, getting diagnosed, accessing therapies and returning to normal life is a formidable challenge. It’s bad enough you don’t feel well. Dealing with bureaucracy and all the people involved in providing your therapy is an added challenge for many people.”

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