July 24, 2003

Sami Labs plans advanced formulations unit for nutraceuticals near Bangalore

Bangalore based Sami Labs Limited has drawn up an aggressive game plan for its year-old Nutraceutical Formulations Division to boost the sales of its new breed of nutraceutical formulations (antioxidants, phyto-chemcials, glucosamine sulphate, and coenzyme supplements).These products have shown moderate success in the Indian markets. The company's blueprint is ready for setting up an exclusive facility, a one-of-its-kind in Asia and the first dedicated formulations production unit in the country. The plant coming up, an existing 5-acre facility in Peenya in the outskirts of Bangalore, will be adhering to USFDA, UK-MCA and Australia TGA norms. The construction is scheduled to start within the next three months,

Neeraja Shetty, chief executive officer (CEO), Nutraceutical Formulations Division, Sami Labs was not in a position to disclose the capital expenditure but stated that the formulations range of products were currently being manufactured at GMP (good manufacturing practises) complied loan licensed units in Karnataka and other parts of the country. The division's was set-up with a Rs.5 crore investment and has partnered with American Formulary Inc. USA, a subsidiary of Sami Group of Companies. "We picked up a few of their novel and widely accepted products for India - AntoxCare (antioxidant), Co. Q. Care (bioenergizer), Arthicare (arthritis), OspoCare (post menopausal symptoms), OcuCare (antioxidant for aged related macular degeneration), HeptoCare (heptoprotective), ProstmenCare (for prostrate diseases), and Xs-GlucoCare (borderline diabetes)" An additional Rs. 5 crore was pumped in April 2003 as operation costs.

The division's eight months of turbulence in the over-crowded domestic market is now stabilised. It managed to meet the sales target in April-June 2003 and is expected to generate sales of Rs. 10 crore by end of March 2004. We have gauged that the domestic market lacks a 'dominant' player that could be a benchmark for Sami's Nutraceutical Formulations Division and are gearing up to occupy the slot as a 'pioneer and leader' in the new breed of nutraceutical formulations," said Shetty in a note of confidence.

The favourable factors to penetrate the markets via the ethical route, according to Shetty are the acceptance by Indian doctors to prescribe the never-before-novel-ingredient formulations that are powerful, potent, and reasonably priced. Some of the marketing strategies include a unique rational education programme for doctors about the novel range of formulations that can be prescribed as a preventive, supportive and adjunctive therapy. Another value added promotional tool included is a loyalty assessment process for doctors.

The current mandate of the division is the domestic market where 80 sales personnel cover six States- Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. By 2003 end, Goa, Delhi and Punjab are included and total sales force will increase to 125. To enter the international market in 2004-2005, documentation procedures are on in some countries and distributors have been identified in Sri Lanka and Philippines.

Nandita Vijay,