Iron deficiency affects more people than any other condition, constituting a public health condition of epidemic proportions. It is estimated that 2 billion people, over 30% of the world’s population, are anemic, many due to iron deficiency. Left untreated, iron deficiency anemia could lead to severe health problems, including heart problems, poor pregnancy outcome, impaired physical and cognitive development, and increased susceptibility to infections.
While diet help improve iron levels, an additional therapy is often needed to bring it up to acceptable levels. However, current standard of care is not well tolerated, and nearly half of all patients have gastro intestinal side effects, including constipation, nausea and diarrhea. As a result, many do not adhere to their treatment regime, ultimately lowering efficacy.
The San Antonio-based startup Fe3 Medical is developing a novel transdermal patch that delivers iron across the skin for patients suffering from iron deficiency anemia. Worn overnight once a week, the patch delivers the amount of iron needed directly through the skin, bypassing the GI tract and eliminating undesirable side effects associated with currents treatment options.
Although still early, the company has very promising pre-clinical data and is currently planning clinical trials. If successful, it has the potential of disrupting the current iron supplement market, a several billion dollar global market. More importantly, the transdermal patch has the potential to significantly improve patient experience and compliance, ultimately leading to more effective treatments of iron deficiency anemia.
Since the transdermal patch only need to be taken once a week, it could also be an interesting solution in resource-poor settings if made available at a low enough price. These are settings where every second women and 40 percent of preschool children are estimated to be anemic. Delivering effective treatments in these areas could have substantial benefits, both restoring personal health and could raise national productivity levels by as much as 20 percent, according to WHO.
The startup recently announced raising $11 million in Series B Financing. The round was led by investors Jianmin Pharmaceuticals, HgCapital and PingAn Ventures, together with existing investor InCube Ventures. The financing will be used for clinical trials and regulatory submissions required to obtain CE Mark and FDA approval for the transdermal patch.