Mark Sullivan AO

Founder and managing director of Medicines Development for Global Health

2019 VIC Australian of the Year

From his tiny Southbank office, Mark Sullivan’s work ensures millions of disadvantaged people get the medicines they need. Founder and managing director of not-for-profit Medicines Development for Global Health (MDGH), Mark and his 11-person team develop medicines based on public health needs, rather than commercial opportunity.

After years of fundraising, research and development, MDGH was the first Australian biopharmaceutical company to receive FDA approval for a new drug, moxidectin. The medicine treats river blindness, a debilitating illness affecting 20 million people in sub Saharan Africa.

The company has a self-sustained model to manufacture and distribute moxidectin. They are also planning clinical trials to assess moxidectin as a new treatment for the scabies parasite that up to 70% of Aboriginal babies have suffered by the age of 1.

The drug may also be an option for the 1.5 billion people affected with other neglected tropical diseases. Just as importantly, Mark has developed a highly effective new business model for developing much-needed new medicines.