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Nestlé eyes herbal sector with Hong Kong JV; 2013 clinical trials planned

By Shane Starling , 28-Nov-2012
Last updated the 28-Nov-2012 at 19:06 GMT

Andrographis paniculata - Nestlé has high hopes for its digestive system prowess in 2014 but will conduct clinicals first
Andrographis paniculata - Nestlé has high hopes for its digestive system prowess in 2014 but will conduct clinicals first

Nestlé has amplified its nutrition presence by forming a joint venture to develop Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM). Orally consumed gastro products will be first off the rank based on an extract from the andrographis paniculata plant grown in Indian and Sri Lanka.

Spokesperson Hilary Green said the extract - HMPL-004 - "is not on the market as yet as phase III trials have not yet been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)."

Expansion could occur into metabolic disease and brain health; president and CEO of Nestlé Health Science, Luis Cantarell, said clinical trials would commence in 2013 utilising HMPL-004.

Supplement products already formulate with andrographis paniculata with one claiming it supported, “digestive, cardiovascular and urinary systems” and contained, andrographolide, deoxyandrographolide and neoandrographolide, 5,7, tetramethoxyflavanone and 5-hydroxy-7, trimethoxyflavone, as well as several other flavonoids and polyphenols.”

Nestlé’s new partner is Hong Hong-based, Hutchison Whampoa-owned Chi-Med, which has a bank of 50,000 extracts and 1200 plants – a bank that Nestlé will be keen to tap going forward.

"a major acceleration in our quest to expand the boundaries of nutrition”

Cantarell said the new joint venture – called Nutritional Science Partners – “represents a major acceleration in our quest to expand the boundaries of nutrition”.

A product could reach shelves by 2014, in the form of an, “oral therapy extracted from a herb used in TCM to address mild to moderate inflammatory bowel disease.”

It is not clear if the product will be a supplement or a drug – or which markets it may launch in.

Cantarell added:  “We will bring our unique competencies in nutritional science, diagnostics and commercial capabilities while Chi-Med will provide access to its best-in-class TCM library and discovery platform.”

Chi-Med CEO Christian Hogg added: “We are joined in this important endeavour by Nestlé Health Science, and are confident that by harnessing the resources of our two groups, we will succeed in bringing a stream of novel botanical medicines and nutritional products to market and in-so-doing build significant value for patients and for our shareholders.”

Expanding nutrition portfolio

The 50/50 joint venture will begin with an undisclosed capital investment from Nestlé.

Since Nestlé Health Science was established in 2011 it has made several acquisitions to aid its quest to explore the food-pharma divide including US gastrointestinal diagnostics company Prometheus, New Zealand-based Vital Foods  and UK-based CM&D Pharma Ltd.

It also bought UK metabolic disorders specialist Vitaflo and US brain health researcher, Accera.

See Cantarell talking about the JV here.

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