Nutraceuticals World last wrote about Natural Health Science (NHS)/Horphag Research in 2003. At the time the company was focusing its efforts on clinical research, branding and getting its flagship ingredient Pycnogenol into foods. A lot has changed since then. “Since 2003 we’ve stretched our portfolio in terms of sales channels. We now cater to pharmaceutical, food, nutraceutical and cosmetic customers all over the world,” said Victor Ferrari, CEO.
To recap, Pycnogenol is extracted from French maritime pine bark, and it has four basic properties, according to the company: it’s a powerful antioxidant; acts as a natural anti-inflammatory; selectively binds to collagen and elastin; and it aids in the production of endothelial nitric oxide, which helps to dilate blood vessels.
To date, more than 230 scientific articles and clinical trials have confirmed Pycnogenol’s safety, absence of toxicity and clinical efficacy over the past 40 years. Published findings have demonstrated its beneficial effects in cardiovascular health, osteoarthritis, skin care, cognitive function, diabetes, inflammation, sports nutrition, asthma and allergy relief and menstrual disorders, among others. To keep the science behind Pycnogenol flowing, Horphag invests about $1.5 million annually in new scientific and clinical research.
Qualifying this commitment to research, the American Botanical Council (ABC) recently published a monograph on Pycnogenol summarizing its benefits and research base. “Pycnogenol is an excellent example of a natural plant-based product, which is the subject of extensive clinical research,” said ABC Founder and executive director Mark Blumenthal. “ABC acknowledges Horphag Research, the manufacturer, for its singular focus and for its commitment to funding continued clinical trials to investigate and document the beneficial role Pycnogenol might have in selfcare and healthcare.”
But the company’s single-ingredient focus is about to change. According to Mr. Ferrari, NHS/Horphag is working on three new ingredients to be launched next year. When asked to describe them, he said, “They will reflect our belief in high quality and safety, possessing all of the necessary data. We will also control the source and protect these ingredients with proprietary science and patents.”
So when and why did the company start exploring other ingredients for its pipeline? “Being a single product company, we were interested in finding innovative products, but surveying the market and going through the analysis was a frustrating endeavor because there was always someone to say it was not unique enough,” he said, adding, “So we put a team together to develop the products ourselves.”
Now, three years later, the company is close to launch after having put together the story, a monograph and the clinical data. “We’ve spent a lot of money without even having something that is marketable yet. What we’ve developed cannot just be purchased somewhere—this was a long process and we had to do it right.”
NHS/Horphag has always been adamant about guiding its customers on the appropriate use of Pycnogenol, and Mr. Ferrari says that won’t change with these new products. “What comes with a product of our caliber is a way of applying the brand, the IP and the research—we must advise our customers how to use it properly.”
Considering the recent wave of mergers and acquisitions in the industry, it was only natural to ask Mr. Ferrari if he sees a potential suitor in NHS/Horphag’s future. “We are not for sale now but you never know. Regardless, we are driven by intellectual interest—more than money. It’s about value. The more research we do, the more value we add to the company.”
And this philosophy seems to be paying off for the company. “Since 2001, our sales have increased more than six times,” Mr. Ferrari said. “And even in a tough economy the company continues to experience double-digit growth. The only way to combat a difficult economy is through innovation.”—R.W.
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