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New company aims to make Sambucol a global consumer brand

By Jess Halliday , 26-Oct-2006

Sambucol elderberry extract, developed and researched for its flu-fighting properties by Israel's Razei Bar, is set to increase its presence in existing markets and enter new ones after being acquired by newly formed Healthcare Brands International.

Sambucol was developed by virologist Dr Madeleine Mumcuoglu, who identified an extract of black elderberry with antiviral properties, including helping alleviate the symptoms of 'flu.

It has already available in a limited number of markets in Western Europe, and the USA and Canada - and its new owner is already eyeing new markets across the world.

"I am sure this is for the best for Sambucol, and they are going to make it a global brand name," Dr Mumcuoglu told

Razei Bar was producing more than 1.5 million bottles of Sambucol syrup, with average growth of 10 per cent each year.

With £25m in venture capital, HBI certainly has the resources to hand to propel its first acquisition into the limelight. Its stated mission is to help turn innovative medical product technology into successful consumer brands, acquiring them from companies that lack the commercial capability and resources for them to realise their full potential.

"HBI is focussing on consumer needs, which are currently either unmet or only partially met by available OTC products," said the company, which has at its helm Barry Clare. Clare was the architect of the OTC arm of Boots, Boots Healthcare International, which was recently sold to Reckitt Benckiser.

Sambucol has an impressive store of science behind it: in the first double blind placebo controlled clinical trial it was seen to improve influenza symptoms within one to two days. (Zakay J Alt Compl Med 1:361-369) This, and a second study (Zakay-Rones, Int Med Res 2004; 32(2):132-140 also found evidence that Sambucol may reduce the overall duration of the illness.

Most recently it was studied in vitro in a London laboratory at the beginning of this year for its ability to inhibit growth of the avian 'flu virus H5N1.

The value of the Sambucol acquisition has not been revealed. HBI's funding comes from a syndicate of life science investors: Abingworth, MVM Life Science Partners, 3i, and Sofinnova Partners.

The company is expected to make further product launch announcements in the near future.

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