The CEO of one of South Africa’s leading oncology companies, Eurolab, has been recognised internationally for her clear vision on what the future of cancer treatment in South Africa (SA) should look like. Lynne du Toit was selected out of seven CEOs of pharmaceutical companies from across the globe who had been shortlisted for the CPhI Excellence in Pharma: CEO of the Year Award. Judges on the Congress of Pharmaceutical Ingredients (CPhI) Worldwide award panel also selected her for her bold, forward-looking leadership, dynamism and contribution to the wider industry.

Speaking at the awards ceremony in Milan, Italy, last week, du Toit, said, “I dedicate this award to my hard-working team at Eurolab in South Africa; to scientists and developers who advance cancer treatment to improve outcomes for cancer patients; to cancer patients in SA and across the world; to oncologists and healthcare workers who care for these patients; and also to all women CEOs who have had to balance family and work commitments to get ahead.”

Du Toit’s career began in nursing and midwifery. She entered the corporate world in the 1980s as a ‘rep’. “Back then, pharma reps were mostly women and the management teams primarily men. Women have had to apply themselves smartly and carefully juggle family and professional demands to hold their own and show their grit alongside their male executives,” she says.

Together with Gabe Simaan, Chairman of the Eurolab group, Lynne has built Eurolab from the ground up into a leading oncology company that today, through its five divisions, offers an integrated, whole-of cancer-solution to oncologists and their patients. Lowering the costs of cancer medicine, making treatment more accessible and more affordable, and bringing solutions previously only available abroad into SA have underpinned her vision for the company. It is a vision that du Toit has realised and continues to pursue.

Eurolab was founded in 2011 as a generic oncology medicine company to make cancer treatment more affordable for South Africans. Today it has a medicine portfolio of over 30 products, and with the introduction of each new drug over the past decade, more patients have received cancer treatment at a more affordable price.

Du Toit says, “By 2018, Eurolab had driven the price patients were paying for chemotherapy down by over 50%, while the rest of the market experienced an average increase of over 30%. The financial burden of cancer remains one of the biggest challenges for families who are experiencing this disease, and Eurolab is proud that today, patients are required to pay less than half of what they had to pay for oncology medicine in 2010.”

Du Toit says that the Eurolab journey is far from over. “We are working tirelessly on widening access to innovative treatments, solutions and collaborations to strengthen the oncology response in SA in the face of the growing incidence of cancer.”

The CPhI Pharma Awards have been committed to recognising excellence in pharma since 2003.