BASF and the nutrition products distribution firm DIEM Labs have formed an agreement under which the German giant will introduce its first medical food. The pact is one of several recent chemical company efforts to expand in the health and nutrition market.
BASF is not providing details on what the product is, but it was developed in the business unit that houses the company’s work in omega-3 chemistry, according to Charlotte Berg-Svendsen, strategic innovation and intellectual property manager for the division.
The company describes the product as a “first-to-the-market” medical food product for patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. “With this step, BASF is entering an attractive new market segment in the space between human nutrition and pharma,” says Francois Scheffler, head of the company’s human nutrition and pharma solutions business.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which have several plant and animal sources, including fish and walnuts, are associated with human metabolic and other health benefits.
BASF is launching the product in the U.S., Berg-Svendsen says, because of the country’s size and its well-established regulatory framework for medical foods. Under the Orphan Drug Act of 1983, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration defines medical food as food that is formulated to be consumed under the supervision of a physician for the management of a disease or condition for which there are scientifically recognized nutritional requirements.
Medical foods, unlike drugs, are exempt from FDA’s premarket review requirement and do not have to be labeled for health claims or nutrient content.
Several recent industry deals target the market for medical foods and other nutrition ingredients. Codexis and Nestlé, for example, announced a collaboration last month in which Nestlé’s medical foods business will access Codexis protein-engineering technology to develop enzymes for metabolic disorders.
This month, the food ingredients maker Innophos acquired NutraGenesis, a Vermont-based marketer of nutraceutical ingredients, for $28 million.
And DuPont’s recent acquisition of FMC’s health and nutrition business bolsters its existing nutrition business by adding food texturants and drug excipients.