Forest Laboratories UK is claimed to be the market leader in colic products in the UK and Ireland, and its parent company, Forest Laboratories Inc USA, has a turnover in excess of $3bn (€2.5bn).
BioGaia managing director Peter Rothschild told NutraIngredients.com that the drops will be available without prescription, but part of Forest's marketing will involve making doctors, midwives and other health care professions aware of them so that they recommend them to their patients.
Last September results of a study investigating the effects of probiotic bacteria drops on the symptoms of colic in breast-feeding infants were presented at the European Society for Paediatric Research Meeting in Siena, Italy. These results are thought to have boosted interest in Reuteri, and helped the international roll-out.
The Forest deal comes on the back of several other annoucements in recent months, including the distribution of a probiotic product containing Lactobacillus reuteri for the restoration and maintenance of healthy vaginal flora, in cooperation with Chr. Hansen; a five-year agreement with HSO Pharma in Austria for its dental health products, and a new agreement with Victus to take Reuteri tables and drops into the US hospital market, indicated to support gastrointestinal health.
Rothschild was not able to give details of expectations for the UK and Irish market, but said that it is "very visible" and has the potential to become one of the most important markets in Europe.
BioGaia has a salesforce of ten working on new distribution agreements, and further announcements are expected to be forthcoming.
Rothchild said that enthusiasm for the product seems to be contagious. "They haven't found a vaccine yet," he joked.
In December BioGaia bought an early end to a two-year study investigating the effects of probiotics on allergies, in particular eczema, in new born infants following disappointing preliminary results. This caused the company to write off SEK 10.8 million (€1.15m) in development expenses, and SEK 4.9 million (€0.5m) to reverse provisions for future commitments to pay royalties on future sales of allergy products.
Rothschild said that there are no plans to pick up research in this area again in the near future, and for the time-being the company is concentrating on benefits in several other areas: oral healthy, immunity, gut health, and female health and hygiene.
In full year 2005 BioGaia reported operating result was -SEK20.7m (€2.2m), compared to -SEK28.8m (€3.07m) in full year 2004, and net sales increased by an impressive 47 per cent to SEK59.6m (€6.35m).