Mithra wins essenscia Innovation Award 2019 for its new generation contraceptive pill, Estelle®


Mithra (Euronext Brussels: MITRA), a company dedicated to Women’s Health today announces that it won the prestigious essenscia Innovation Award 2019. Awarded every two years by the Federation of Chemistry and Life Sciences, the Innovation Award is the most important prize for industrial innovation in Belgium. It aims to highlight the greatest innovations of Belgian industry and to encourage Belgian companies to continue to invest in innovative and sustainable products.

Selected amongst a hundred candidates, Mithra was elected “Most innovative company 2019” for the development of its contraceptive pill Estelle® based on Estetrol (E4), the natural hormone produced by the human fetus during pregnancy. Through a complex production process, Mithra managed to reproduce E4 and developed an innovative products platform dedicated to women’s health.

Jean-Michel Foidart, co-founder of Mithra and Perpetual Secretary of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium commented : “All clinical tests have been completed and Estelle® should be launched in 2020. We are now in the final approval phase and will prepare to file with the regulatory agencies. We’ve been working on this natural hormone for 20 years to develop a new generation contraceptive pill with a better benefit/risk profile, while improving the quality of life for women. This is a true revolution in a field with no innovation for 80 years.”

François Cornélis, President of the essenscia Innovation Award jury : “All finalists have submitted an ambitious innovation project, but the contraceptive pill of Mithra has great potential. This award mainly shows the power of innovation in the Belgian industry, in particular in the fields of chemistry, plastic materials and health sciences, in international companies with activities in our country, and in Belgian SME, startups, and spinoffs. Together, they accomplish revolutionary innovation that brings answers to the main challenges in society.”

Beside innovation, the essenscia Innovation Award takes into account various criteria, such as the strategy for intellectual property management, the environmental impact and the value added for the Belgian economy. With Estelle® and its two other potential blockbusters in development in menopause and perimenopause (Donesta® and PeriNesta™), Mithra is a true driver of the national and regional economy. The biopharma company from Liege currently employs more than 200 people, and should reach 300 people by 2020.

François Fornieri, CEO of Mithra Women’s Health commented : “Estelle® is a 100% made in Belgium pill : it was developed in our country and it will be mainly produced here and then exported worldwide. With our R&D and manufacturing platform, the Mithra CDMO, we strive to minimize the environmental footprint of our activities.

I am very honored and moved to receive this Innovation Award, which tops off the hard work of an entire team for nearly 20 years. Together, we dared to attempt this crazy bet to transform what nature has given us into a true innovation to best meet the needs of women. Twenty years later, the dream has become reality through perseverance, passion and scientific rigor. I am also very proud to share this award with all the other nominees in the running, whose equally innovative projects address the major challenges of our current society.”


Mithra (Euronext: MITRA) is dedicated to providing innovation and choice in Women’s Health, with a particular focus on contraception and menopause. Mithra’s goal is to develop new and improved products that meet women’s needs for better safety and convenience. Its three lead development candidates – a fifth generation oral contraceptive Estelle®, the first complete oral treatment for perimenopause PeriNesta™ and next-generation hormone therapy Donesta® - are built on Mithra’s unique native estrogen platform, E4 (Estetrol). Mithra also develops, manufactures and markets complex therapeutics and offers partners a complete spectrum of research, development and specialist manufacturing at its CDMO. Mithra was founded in 1999 as a spin-off from the University of Liège by Mr. François Fornieri and Prof. Dr. Jean-Michel Foidart. Mithra is headquartered in Liège, Belgium. Further information can be found at:



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