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Want to watch a show on drugs?

A local production company is hard at work on a new documentary series on drugs and the drug industry.

A new documentary series on the pharmaceutical industry is coming soon, thanks to a local production company working in partnership with Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation (API) and with the support of the University of Alberta.

Drugs: A One-Swallow Treatment for a Misunderstood Industry is meant to be a comprehensive look at how drugs get developed and approved by showing all of the complexities, challenges and successes of the process. Edmonton-based Riverford Productions Inc. is taking on this deep dive and it already has all the right players on board.

“I am excited to express our support to Riverford Production’s documentary series focusing on drug development in Canada and its place in the global marketplace,” said API CEO Andrew MacIsaac in a press release. “We believe that this series can help the public better understand the complexities of what it takes to move a lab discovery forward to the point where it is available as a lifesaving medication for patients, as well as highlight some of the world class work that is happening in our community.”

After 35 years as a producer, Steve Glassman said part of his success and his drive is to always be on the lookout for interesting ideas and projects. It was perhaps a decade ago when he found himself on a plane next to Isotechnika Pharma head Robert Foster. Their conversation led to the topic of how Isotechnika was in the process of developing a treatment for lupus.

“In that short conversation that we had, I realized that there actually was a pharmaceutical industry in this province,” Glassman admitted. “I was taken aback by this individual in terms of the experience that he had in terms of the pharmaceutical industry. I just found it fascinating.”

Riverford Productions originally was interested in producing science documentaries but over the course of its contact with Glassman, the whole notion of the pharmaceutical industry held the most fascination for them.

“We started off down a different road originally with the science films and then when we started talking to Steve about coming on board and being part of our team was really where it took off. We both had this common vision that overlapped and here we are today,” Riverford producer Les Sereda said.

The series will be based out of the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. API is a research hub that collaborates with academic, not-for-profit and industry partners across the province and the country to support innovators launching their ideas into the real world and facilitating the process in all aspects of the drug development process.

Edmonton, they noted, has been the centre for some important pharmaceutical developments including an antiviral therapy for chronic hepatitis B and the development of voclosporin used in the treatment of lupus nephritis, both of which have positive impacts on the lives of millions of people around the world.

That being said, there is still more publicity needed about Edmonton’s – or even Alberta’s – efforts in the industry. There is an even greater lack of knowledge about the industry in general, too, they said.

The producers have already conducted many interviews, though a host has yet to be cast for the series. Riverford hopes to soon start that process and find someone who can lend the right demeanor but still bring a sense of humour to the series. While they want Drugs: A One-Swallow Treatment to be serious overall, they still hope to make it palatable to a broad audience.


Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.
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