BioGaia has been steadily expanding the global reach of its probiotic products containing its Reuteri bacteria for the last year. The latest deal gives Ewopharma the exclusive rights for the probiotic chew and oil products sold in pharmacies in Poland, Slovak Republic, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovenia, as well as Czech Republic and Hungary for the chews only (the oils are already marketed in these two countries under an earlier agreement).
A Swiss company, Ewopharma has a strong sales presence in Central Eastern Europe.
The products are not registered as pharmaceuticals, but Ewopharma manager medical affairs Veronika Kovalikova said: "The scientific documentation of BioGaia's products is highly convincing - the number of clinical studies supporting the products is outstanding for products that are not registered as pharmaceuticals."
"Our long-term investment in product development and clinical studies is the base from which more and more pharmaceutical companies are interested in distributing our products," said Peter Rothschild, president of BioGaia.
The results of a study investigating the effects of the probiotic bacteria drops on the symptoms of colic in breast-feeding infants, presented at the European Society for Paediatric Research Meeting in Siena, Italy, last September, are thought to have boosted interest in Reuteri around the world.
The results of some new studies are expected to be made public in the near future.
As for the potential of probiotic products in the region, Rothschild told NutraIngredients.com that Poland, in particular, has been developing very well. In the other markets, although they are smaller, there is growing interest.
"In this area there are 95m people, of which 20 per cent of these have Western standard of living," he said. "We would go gladly into any country with 20m people, such as Australia."Moreover Rothschild said that his company has been contacted by distributors active in the region who are seeking more probiotic products. "Before, they were seen as too expensive," he said. The products are expected to appear on shelves in Ewopharma's markets from 2007 and will bear the BioGaia branding. Rothschild told NutraIngredients.com recently that the BioGaia label is seen as preferable, since the company aims to raise awareness of its brand both amongst consumers and the medical profession, which tends to become aware of positive studies first and can recommend the products.