Nutraceuticals market growing despite regulatory challenges

Tuesday, 19 December, 2017

Nutraceuticals are expanding into new territories as the need for new therapies increases, according to GBI Research.

Most of the innovation in the nutraceuticals sector is being carried out by specialised biotechs and food companies, according to RBI Research’s latest report: ‘Nutraceuticals: New Application for Probiotics’.

“Despite regulatory infrastructure posing limitations, nutraceuticals have successfully diversified into areas traditionally occupied by mainstream pharma,” said Oliver Mundell, analyst at GBI Research.

“Furthermore, developers of nutraceuticals are now targeting areas with high unmet clinical need such as depression and neurodegenerative disease.”

Pharmaceutical companies that are involved in this space typically manufacture consumer nutraceuticals, said the report. Some pharma companies are looking to exit the marketspace, with GSK having recently offloaded several key nutraceutical brands.

“The exit of GSK from the nutraceuticals sector marks the end of almost 50 years in the industry. Strategic decisions to leave the nutraceuticals sector are understandable, given the high market saturation and regulatory issues that nutraceutical products face. These factors are also the factors driving the diversification and medicalisation of the sector,” said Mundell.

The market lacks a clear definition of what constitutes a nutraceutical, with the term covering a spectrum of products from prescription-only medical foods to widely available consumer supplements, according to the report.

“Much of the innovation in the field is being carried out by food companies, which are investing heavily in both early and applied R&D with well defined and evidenced clinical applications, in a manner more typical of pharmaceutical companies.”

Nestlé has been expanding its presence in the healthcare market with the formation of Nestlé Health Sciences, which has made a string of acquisitions and deals that have led to some commentators considering it amongst the top 50 pharma companies.

Mundell said, “Nestlé are a good example of a food company entering into the healthcare and pharma industry. They have invested heavily in clinical and preclinical projects as well as acquisitions of already marketed brands.”

There are still many challenges that the nutraceutical industry faces. Despite showing sustained growth, 78% of industry professionals surveyed by GBI Research did not believe that there was a clear, well-understood definition of the term within their country and that the public, therefore, did not fully understand what exactly nutraceuticals were.

“Furthermore, regulatory differences between regions make global product marketing difficult and weak regulatory frameworks conceal potentially beneficial products that are often marketed alongside inferior products due to restrictions on claims that products in specific categories can make,” said Mundell.

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