German company Schwabe looks to satiate growing appetite for immunity-boosters

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on June 25, 2020 Published on June 25, 2020

Sanat acquisition adds to bouquet of nutraceutical and phyto-pharmaceuticals

As the appetite for nutritional supplements and immunity-boosting products increases against the backdrop of Covid-19, the 150-year-old German company Dr Willmar Schwabe looks to address this need in India and from India, through its recent acquisition of Sanat Products Ltd.

Traditionally known for its homeopathy products, Schwabe is a plant-based pharmaceuticals major. Earlier this month, it acquired the erstwhile Pradip Burman-owned company Sanat for an undisclosed amount.

“Globally there has been a shift, with people spending a small part of their income on immunity-building products, even if it’s a Vitamin-C tablet,” says Ashish Kumar, Managing Director, Dr Willmar Schwabe India.

The Sanat acquisition would help Schwabe India align with the parent company’s “pillars” of strength in nutraceuticals, phytopharmaceuticals and homeopathy products. The ₹180-crore Schwabe India looks to build its base to promote these products locally and overseas by leveraging Sanat’s distribution network, investing in building some if its good brands and manufacturing for export from facilities that have foreign regulatory approvals, Kumar said.

Over 15 years ago, Sanat’s Sunova Spirulina and other nutraceutical brands had a presence in the marketplace. But reports suggest that Dr Burman, who is part of Dabur’s Burman family, eventually decided to sell Sanat to focus on philanthropy.

Huge market

While Sanat’s brands have potential, they also face local competition from Parry Nutraceuticals, Sami Labs, Himalaya, Emami, Baidyanath, Hamdard and other allopathic companies looking at opportunities in the health supplements segment with over-the-counter products. Industry estimates peg homeopathy market at ₹2,000 crore and ayurveda and other herbal products at ₹40,000 crore.

Sanat’s three plants at Secunderabad, Rohtak and Dindigul and its 300 employees would come into the Schwabe fold. In fact, the Secunderabad plant is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, Kumar said, and it could become a base to make and export phyto or herbal APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients).

Immunity boosters have received much attention during Covid with the Centre and some States advising people to take homeopathy products such as Arsenicum album, camphor etc. Responding to criticism often levelled at traditional products, Kumar said, “this is the best opportunity for homeopathy to prove its benefit by also documenting findings in a scientific manner.” Schwabe is working with a private institute in Kolkata to do that, he said.

States like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are working with industry to source homeopathy products to support Covid management, he said. Schwabe’s Noida plant makes and exports homeopathic products to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia and Germany, he added.


Published on June 25, 2020
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