Gee Lawson poised to grow European joint health market

By Dominique Patton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Joint health, Chondroitin sulfate, Msm

Rising consumer demand for non-prescription jointcare remedies,
backed up by new research out this year, will create a positive
climate for growth of newer entrants to the joint health sector,
believes UK company Gee Lawson.

The ingredients supplier already markets glucosamine - one of the best established natural jointcare products - and chondroitin in Europe but it has also offered MSM made by Cardinal Nutrition on the UK market for the last three years.

A new deal with the Canadian manufacturer will see it pushing for three times its current volume sold (20 metric tons annually) by expanding its marketing efforts in other European markets.

The move could prove influential for the joint health sector's development in Europe, much less mature than the UK.

Jonathon Shorts, managing director for the Gee Lawson group, says MSM, like other joint health products, will be helped by the fall-out from the recall of COX-2 inhibitors, the leading treatment for joint conditions, earlier this year.

"There has definitely been a move towards non-prescriptive drugs. I think people are prepared to give them a chance,"​ he told NutraIngredients.com.

He said that Gee Lawson has seen a 15 per cent rise in sales across all of its joint health ingredients since the Vioxx recall and is expecting this trend to continue.

"I would expect a rise across the board, that is, glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and certain omega-3s,"​ he said.

Natural jointcare products should also benefit from the results of a major trial on glucosamine and chondroitin, due to be presented at a conference this month. The GAIT study abstract shows that the combination had significant benefit for knee pain.

"We're expecting better things once the GAIT report is published,"​ said Shorts, adding that the skepticism that some medical professionals have had towards these products may change and will also make them more open to new natural products marketed for this application.

MSM is much newer on the joint health market than glucosamine but there is already some evidence of its efficacy. Many of the studies done so far have been in combination with glucosamine but a study funded by Cardinal Nutrition and presented in September found its OptiMSM to have a statistically significant effect on pain and stiffness, as measured by the WOMAC scale, after being taken by 50 men and women twice a day over a 12-week period.

Other studies have also suggested that MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) can be used for seasonal disorders, such as hayfever.

MSM has an advantage over other joint care ingredients in that it is not derived from animal byproducts, but rather byproducts from the timber and oil industries.

It is competitively priced against other ingredients - under $10 per kg - although a significant Chinese presence on the market is undercutting Western prices.

Cardinal Nutrition has however focussed its branding around the quality of the product. It claims that its distillation process results in higher purity of the chemical compared with that produced by crystallization used by its Chinese competition.

The firm has also recently invested in plant expansions and process improvements so that it can offer continuously distilled MSM in larger lots and therefore greater efficiency.

Gee Lawson's extended distribution of OptiMSM will be followed by other ingredients as the group builds a bigger presence in Europe. With an office in Lugano, Switzerland since 1999, dealing primarily with the Italian, Austrian and Swiss markets, it is now looking to expand into Germany, and increase its sales in Spain, Portugal, the Benelux countries and Scandinavia.

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