3i backs H.B.I to turn science into consumer brands

05 Oct 2006

Acquisition Of Exciting Anti-'Flu Product Kick-Starts New Company

Healthcare Brands International (HBI), a new company helping to turn innovative medical product technology into successful consumer brands, was officially launched today.  Backed by venture capital from a syndicate of leading life science investors, HBI is targeting companies which have successfully developed innovative technology but lack the commercial capability and resources to realise their true potential with consumers worldwide.  HBI is focussing on consumer needs, which are currently either unmet or only partially met by available OTC products.

The specialist HBI management team is led by Barry Clare, architect of Boots Healthcare International, the hugely successful branded OTC arm of Boots recently sold to Reckitt Benckiser.  The ten-strong team has more than 100 combined years of experience in identifying and commercialising new and unique healthcare product and brand opportunities at Boots and other leading consumer goods companies. 

The elderberry extract Sambucol® will be HBI's first brand, following its acquisition by HBI this week.  Pioneering virologist Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu identified and developed a unique process for the extraction of an active ingredient in elderberry with antiviral properties which, amongst other benefits, helps combat the symptoms of influenza.

In a first clinical double blind, placebo-controlled trial unique to the Sambucol® brand, patients who suffered influenza symptoms and took Sambucol® saw significant improvements within one to two days. The duration of the 'flu was reduced to three to four days, compared to more than six days in the placebo group.   In a separate study, patients taking Sambucol® were relieved of symptoms on average four days earlier compared to eight days in the placebo group and significantly improved within two days compared with six days for the placebo group.

In the most recent in vitro study, conducted in early 2006, Sambucol® was at least 99% effective at inhibiting growth of the avian 'flu virus H5N1. 
Sambucol®'s effectiveness in the treatment of influenza, could not be more timely, especially given concerns about the supply of 'flu vaccines for seasonal 'flu.  At least a third of the global population is at risk during a 'flu pandemic; the UK's NHS crisis could affect hundreds of thousands of people, in particular the elderly population and those with respiratory conditions such as asthma. Sambucol® is a powerful example of taking the pioneering work of a leading scientist and delivering a product to meet the needs of today's consumer.

Dr. Mumcuoglu says of the trials: "The elderberry is a traditional remedy now backed by modern science. Formerly known as 'the medicine chest of the people', it has active properties as an antiviral, an antioxidant and in helping the body's natural defence mechanisms."
 
Barry Clare, Chairman of HBI comments: "We are excited by the clear evidence that Dr. Mumcuoglu has developed a unique product from elderberry which helps relieve the symptoms of 'flu.  The Sambucol® brand is the only elderberry product with these clinical trials to support such claims". 

Sambucol® is currently on sale in a number of markets including the USA, UK and Western Europe.  The Canadian Government actively recommends its use as a defence against 'flu.  HBI will develop the brand further in these markets, through increasing availability and consumer awareness and will launch Sambucol® in new markets across the world.  HBI will retain partnerships with existing Sambucol® distributors, including Brunel Healthcare in UK and Nature's Way in USA.

Healthcare Brands International is committed to acquiring, developing and investing in healthcare products and brands to optimise their commercial potential.  Backed by leading venture capital investors, Abingworth, MVM, 3i and Sofinnova, HBI will focus on products with real differentiation that meet a relevant consumer need and thereby help grow the global self-medication market.  Further product launch announcements can be expected in the near future.

For further information, please contact Gillian Waddell or Barbara Hodgson at Fuel PR.

Notes to editors

3i is a world leader in private equity and venture capital.  The company's focus is on Buyouts, Growth Capital and Venture Capital and invests across Europe, the USA and Asia.  Competitive advantage comes from its international network and the strength and depth of business relationships.  These underpin the value 3i delivers to its portfolio and to shareholders.
3i's Venture Capital business invests in scaleable early and late stage businesses.  3i's VC team currently manage investments across Europe, USA, Asia and Israel, valued in excess of $1 billion.  3i's VC investment fall into four main industry sectors, including healthcare, telecommunications, software and electronics/semiconductors.  In the last twelve months, 3i's VC healthcare team invested in TransMedics, Zonare, Small Bone Innovations, Carmel Pharma, Ulthera, Endosense and Triage Wireless.