Toyota Tsusho seeks to expand Pantesin market with Pharmavite

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Low-density lipoprotein, Cholesterol

Toyota Tsusho America has signed an exclusive supply and licensing
agreement with finished products distributor Pharmavite for its
branded cholesterol-lowering ingredient Pantesin in an effort to
bring it to the mass consumer market in the United States.

Pantesin has been sold in the US as a dietary supplement ingredient for over a decade, according to Toyota Tsusho, as well as in its generic version, pantethine. The company's branded ingredient is a chemical derivative of Vitamin B5 and has been sold as an over the counter drug for cholesterol reduction in Japan for over 20 years. Toyota Tsusho claims the cholesterol-lowering benefits of Pantesin are distinctive from those of other nutraceutical ingredients marketed for cholesterol-reduction because it operates on a mechanism that affects the genetic side of metabolism rather than diet-related sides. "In general, the clinical trials show that it operates on a different metabolic pathway than other cholesterol-lowering ingredients,"​ Fred DiMaria, senior consultant with Toyota Tsusho America, told NutraIngredients-USA. The ingredient has been studied for a quarter of a century in Japan and it is thought that supplementing diet with 300 mg per day can result in at least a 10 percent improvement of HDL cholesterol as well as up to a 17 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol. The company now wants to take its branded version of the ingredient farther into the mainstream market by educating the consumer to its potential benefits directly - a role which Pharmavite has stepped up to the plate to play. "This is the first major move at mass distribution where the consumer will be educated about the product through media advertising,"​ Dan Patriarca, general manager of fine chemicals with Toyota Tsusho America, told NutraIngredients-USA. "Pharmavite will bring these products to their major customers under their existing channels of distribution." ​ Pharmavite is set to launch advertising in mainstream media by the second half of 2007, but details have not been released yet. The California-based company will be including two products from its Nature Made line: Nature Made CholestOff Complete and Nature Made Genetic Cholesterol Reducer. While Pharmavite takes Pantesin to its branded finished product categories, Toyota Tsusho will continue selling the ingredient as well. According to Toyota Tsusho, there are no plans yet to gear product marketing for these supplements to a specific age demographic, but instead they will target those who could be affected by rising cholesterol levels. "This really addresses people with moderate levels of cholesterol,"​ said Patriarca. Depending on how sales take off with Pharmavite in the US, Toyota Tsusho says it may take the same approach to other markets. The company claims that with more than 100 million Americans concerned with their cholesterol levels, the potential market for the ingredient and products is massive once consumers are made more aware of their potential benefits. Health care professionals are increasingly encouraging patients to reduce their levels of LDL ('bad') cholesterol through dietary approaches, in preference to pharmaceutical drugs like statins, which come with potentially serious side effects. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Preliminary mortality data for 2003 show that CVD was the underlying cause of death accounted for 37.3percent of all deaths, or one of every 2.7, in the United States. According to the American Heart Association high LDL cholesterol of 130mg/dL, a major risk factor for heart disease, affects 39.5 percent of the population. Canadian company Forbes MediTech also supplies Pharmavite with a cholesterol-lowering ingredient - plant sterol based Reducol. Pharmavite currently holds the exclusive rights for the use of Reducol in mass market channels. It also uses Reducol in its Nature Made CholestOff supplement.

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