New impetus

Fermenta Biotech rides high on the increasing demand for Vitamin D and expands its portfolio.

The vitamin 0 market for human consumption is spread across phar­maceuticals, neutraceutical and dietary supplements, as well as food and beverages segment. And, as per some reports, the human formula­tions sector alone is estimated to be worth about f25Q crore and growing at almost 40 per cent annually. The veterinary segment in India is largely restricted to chicken and fowl feed and has been stable over the years,
Peter Bains, chairman, Fermenta Biotech Limited, a subsidiary of the ti5.22 crore PiL Ltd (for­merly Duphar Interfran Ltd) Thane (near Mumbai), is beaming with pride, “FBL remains the only manufacturer of vitamin 03 in India,” he says, “it is also only one of the three cfp (Euro­pean pharmaceutical certificatian)- holding companies in the world, PSM and Dishman being the other two, While psm from Europe and Gar­den from China remain the largest piayers globally, FBL has been able to show good growth and satisfactory market performance since its entry in 2009.”

A report by srl Diagnostics, a pathological laboratory, has con­firmed that 84 per cent of India’s population has been found to be vitamin D-deficlent – mainly due to changing lifestyle, increasingly odd- working hours and limited outdoor activities. A human body’s ideal dose of vitamin D is 1,000-2,000 ju (inter­national units) per day. Vitamin D deficiency was found to be prevalent in about 69 per cent of the popula­tion in India, while 15 per cent more were found to be vitamin D-insuffi- cient, thus making about 84 per cent of Indians risk-prone the study says.

The study has also clarified that the differences between deficiency and insufficiency are pronounced – vitamin D deficiency manifests Itself as a bone disease, which is
mostly either rickets or osteomalacia, whereas insufficiency may be associ­ated with milder disease outcomes, including muscle weakness and fatigue. The study has also revealed that, while males aged 30-60 are more likely to develop vitamin D deficiency, as they require extra sup­plements of vitamin D for growth, among the females, it’s adolescent girls and women of child-bearing age who are most affected.

“Vitamin D is used significantly in veterinary segment as an additive in the daily feed and as medicine in high-dose formulations,” says Satish Varma, managing director, Fermenta Biotech. “Mast of the Indian veteri­nary medicine and premix manufac­turers source their Vitamin D3 active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and feed premi* requirements from us. We also export these products glob­ally, as our products are approved by most major global players in the veterinary feed segment.”

The company has two plants – one at Kullu, Himachal Pradesh (which makes vitamin P3, as also other APIs and enzyme products), and the other at Dahej, Gujarat (an integrated plant currently used for the manufacture of vitamin D3 alone). The Dahej plant contributes two third of the company’s overall vitamin D3 capac­ities. Over the last three years, Fer­menta has invested over ?60 crore in the Dahej plant and has plans to add more units, fbl also has a dedi­cated unit at its Gujarat plant for pro­ducing the raw material for D3. The company has a combined produc­tion of 10 tonnes of vitamin D per year and, over the next three years, it plans to double its current capacities, while also adding production units for its other products.

This is where Fermenta’s r&p divi­sion, located in a 6,000 sq ft prem­ises in Thane and driven by a team of
23 highly qualified people, will play a vital role. As most of its businesses are in niche-focussed segments, FBL has been investing about 25 per cent of its profits in r&p every year, with the 2013-14 allocation being about ?4 crore.

Fermenta’s urgency is understand­able. The vitamin D market is grow­ing globally at 10 per cent cagr. And, “recent studies have shown that Vita­min D deficiency is leading to medi­cal conditions like multiple sclerosis, diabetes, Parkinson’s, inflammatory disorders and cancer,” says Banshi Saboo, founder, Diabetes Foundation of India.

Doctors recommend the use of vitamin D extensively these days, as it is no longer considered to be just a bone-strengthening vitamin sup­plement. Human beings procure 90 per cent of vitamin D require­ments from skin’s exposure to sun­light, but changing lifestyles, indoor games and people’s fear that excess sunlight can cause skin cancer have resulted in the depletion of vitamin D in human body.

FBL has been exposed to healthy demand for vitamin D from the domestic as well as export markets, which is being driven also by the ani­mal feed and the food & neutraceu­tical markets. Increased awareness of the benefits of vitamin D has led to a steady rise in the demand for neutra­ceutical and dietary products – espe­cially in the form of daily intakes,

Apart from FBL, there are three other companies making active ingredients for vitamin D globally. One, the Ahmedabad-based Dish- man, is a multinational, specialising in making active ingredients for the pharmaceutical industry. It employs over 1,000 people worldwide and has revenues of $200 million from its factory in the Netherlands. It has a current production capacity of 15 tonnes, which it is planning to increase further soon.

The second, Royal DSM Co, is also a Dutch multinational, special­ising In life science products. It has annual net sales of about €10 bil­lion, employs about 25,000 persons and has customised formulation activities in more than 44 locations, including India, as also a marketing presence in over 60 countries.


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