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Nestlé buys Louisiana depression food firm

By Shane Starling+

Last updated on 28-Feb-2013 at 11:19 GMT2013-02-28T11:19:06Z

Nestlé buys Louisiana depression food firm

Nestlé has bought its second brain health-focused medical foods start-up in eight months after snaffling Red River Pharma-owned Pamlab which makes high-dose vitamin supplements targeting depression, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

The undisclosed buy follows Nestlé Health Science’s (NHS) July 2012 investment in Accera, the US firm behind Axona, another pharma-food (phood) targeted at people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s.

Nestlé spokesperson Hilary Green told us Pamlab will not be integrated with Accera, that it would, "continue to operate as a stand-alone business within the Nestlé Health Science company, and its organisational structure won’t change."

"There are no plans to merge Pamlab with any NHS US business, and no plans to take Pamlab’s products outside the US."

Of the division’s ongoing commitment to the ‘phood’ space Green said: "In terms of acquisitions, NHS will consolidate what it has already acquired and if any other opportunities come up then we will evaluate them."

Pamlab manufactures four prescription-only food supplements for the chronically ill and Nestlé highlighted three of them:  

  • Deplin: For depression. Based on folate form L-methylfolate .
  • Metanx . For diabetes. Based on folic acid form L-methylfolate, vitamin B6 for pyridoxal 5’-phosphate and vitamin B12 form metylcobalamin.
  • CerefolinNAC. For Alzheimer’s . Based on vitamin B12.

NHS made no reference to NeevoDHA - Pamlab’s pregnancy product based on L-methylfolate.

“With their support, we will accelerate the development and deployment of our innovative nutritional solutions for people with chronic metabolic and neurologic conditions,” said Pamlab president and CEO Eric Wingerter.

NHS CEO and president Luis Cantarell spoke of building a US presence and the wider manifesto of NHS when he said: “We have a clear commitment by working with the medical community and the opinion leaders. We are going to make sure that once we have the support of the medical community you are going to have these products widely accessible.”

All the Pamlab products, like Axona (caprylic triglyceride-based), are sold as medical foods under the 1988 US Orphan Drug Amendments Act. Similar legislation exists in the EU and other parts of the world and medical foods are gaining an increasing interest in many markets.

Danone’s Nutricia specialist nutrition arm recently launched a 1500mg omega-3 dose Alzheimer’s drink called Souvenaid in the UK after years of R&D.

NHS's last investment was in November 2012 when it formed Nutrition Science Partners, a 50/50 joint venture with Hong Kong herb specialist Chi-Med that was focused on gastrointestinal health.

Other acquisitions include Vitaflo (clinical nutritional solutions for infants, children and adults with genetic disorders that affect how food is processed by the body); CM&D Pharma Ltd (products for patients with chronic kidney disease); and Prometheus Laboratories (diagnostics and licensed specialty pharmaceuticals in GI and oncology).

NHS was formed in 2010 with a staed aim to research and develop medical foods. It was merged late last year with the Nestlé Nutrition arm that counts Jenny Craig and Power Bar among its brands. 

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