The gap between the pharma- and nutraceutical industry is growing smaller.
At a roundtable discussion at CPhI Worldwide in Madrid, Oct. 9 to 11, industry experts in pharmaceutical, joined by PharmaLinea’s marketing and business development representatives, discussed the state of the nutraceutical industry and its relation to the pharmaceutical.
Attendees agreed that recent trends indicate increasing cooperation and intertwining between both industries, seen in the changing business models of companies on both sides, as well as in the trade show itself. Increasing amounts of nutraceuticals are moving in the direction of pharmaceuticals in terms of being clinically supported and achieving higher quality, safety and stability standards. Simultaneously, interest from pharmaceutical companies is growing. Nutraceuticals allow pharmaceutical companies to expand their target audience to a broader base of health-conscious people. Adding nutraceuticals to their portfolios is convenient because the higher-quality products naturally suit their established marketing channels through pharmacies and medical detailing.
The increasing convergence of the two industries is seen not only in the rising numbers of nutraceutical companies exhibiting at CPhI, but also in their investment in promoting their products in features such as “The Innovation Gallery.” The majority of finished dosage formulations promoted this year were in fact nutraceuticals. Also notable is the appearance of organizer-initiated events, such as the nutraceuticals roundtable discussion. Such recognition of the nutraceuticals industry by a third party highlights its growing importance and, perhaps, indicates a redesign of the exhibition itself.
The trend is clearly in the interest of pharmaceutical companies, as it allows them to widen their consumer base and improve brand image, but due to the ratio of market strength, it is contributing more to the reshaping of the nutraceutical industry. Many manufacturers, motivated either by the possibility of cooperation with pharmaceutical companies or by keeping up with competition, are moving toward higher product standards that are closer to pharma-quality. This includes sourcing quality, branded ingredients with clinical substantiation instead of commodities; placing more importance on product safety and efficacy; and, ultimately, providing solid data. These characteristics are growing increasingly important for nutraceutical products to be able to compete for market share, especially when sold through channels where pharmaceutical companies are present.
Roundtable attendees agreed the nutraceutical industry was lagging behind pharma in proof of stability of active ingredients at the end of a product’s shelf life, and the amount of highest-standard clinical studies performed on finished products. The degree of regulation on these matters is lacking, and consumer awareness is not yet high enough on the nutraceutical side to push companies into the extra effort and investment. The average end-user does not yet know the frequency of cross-interactions of active ingredients, nor does he or she appreciate the importance of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. It is possible, however, that rising interest of pharmaceutical companies will encourage these types of advances in the nutraceutical industry.
What is perhaps most important, is that the converging industries will ultimately benefit end-users, as they will have access to a wider array of higher-quality products.
Blaž Gorjup is chairman and founder of PharmaLinea Ltd., a company dedicated to providing clinically substantiated, private label food supplements. Building on his passion for health industry innovation, experience from the corporate world and based on his relentless pursuit of excellence, Gorjup founded PharmaLinea with a vision of delivering best-in-class private label service.