Indian pharma firm reveals ambitious probiotic plans on back of industry partnerships

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

Sundyota recently partnered with Italian company Probiotical to develop probiotic products for the Indian market.
Sundyota recently partnered with Italian company Probiotical to develop probiotic products for the Indian market.
Indian pharmaceutical firm Sundyota Numandis will open a US$12m probiotic facility to meet demand, following link-ups with major industry players to develop and market a patented formulation.

It most recently partnered with Italian company Probiotical to develop probiotic products for the Indian market, using Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG​.

The deal entails Probiotical supplying coated oro-soluble L. rhamnosus GG​ to Sundyota so the latter can manufacture the final product and market it under the brand name SuperFlora GG.

Sundyota is currently using a third party to manufacture the product in Himachal Pradesh, but plans to invest US$12m in its own facility in Changodar (near Ahmedabad, where the company is based), which will be in operation by year-end.

It will then supply the probiotic to pharmaceutical firm Cipla, with which it has a strategic agreement to simultaneously market the product — Cipla will use the name Unobiotics, and sell it in 1g sachets at ₹45 (US$0.68) each.

The facility is expected to have the capacity to produce 510 million sachets of the product every year, alongside capsules, liquids and tablets.

Preferred probiotic

Sundyota's MD and CEO, Dinesh Arora, told NutraIngredients-Asia​ that the company chose to use L. rhamnosus GG​ as it was "the world's most researched and documented probiotic, and has clinically proven efficacy and safety for various indications across various age groups — from neonates to elders"​.

He added that Sundyota wanted to work with Probiotical as the Italian firm had the rights to market a stable form of L. rhamnosus GG​ known as LGG, thanks to a deal with Finnish dairy company Valio.

The two companies had their first meeting at Vitafoods Europe 2014, and after a second meeting at the Probiotical's office, it agreed to develop a formulation of L. rhamnosus GG ​suitable for India's climate, using microencapsulation to stabilise the probiotic strain.

While Chr. Hansen now owns the LGG trademark after acquiring it from Valio in 2016, Sundyota and Probiotical continued their relationship and launched a patented probiotic formulation called Microbac GG in January this year.

Arora said, "The sensitivity of the L. rhamnosus GG strain does not allow it to survive in high temperature and humidity, and our technology managed to increase its viability and stability.

"After extensive scientific studies on this probiotic, we introduced the probiotic in a technologically superior and consumer-compliant oro-dispersible powder form, which is stable in India's climate."

Sundyota will produce a million sachets of the product every month, which will be available at pharmacies and via medical prescriptions. The company also plans to introduce drop and capsule formats in future.

Collaboration from ambition

Apart from Probiotical and Cipla, Sundyota also has 14 international alliances with major firms such as Lesaffre, Bioiberica and Finzelberg, and intends to raise this number to 20 by year-end.

Additionally, 30 companies in India co-market the firm's exclusive products, a number that may soon exceed 40.

In terms of its agreement with Cipla, Arora said: "India has over 25,000 paediatricians, of whom we cover 10,000. To make the product reach more customers and create greater awareness of its efficacy and safety, we believe there should be at least two companies simultaneously promoting it.

"Cipla is also one of India's top-ranked healthcare firms in India. We expect to reach a value of US$4.5m to US$5m within the first 12 months of launch. The Indian probiotic market is valued at an estimated US$150m, and rather than competing to snatch each other's market share, we're working towards expanding this value to US$1.5bn in the next 10 years."

As for Sundyota itself, Arora said the group turnover for this year is expected to reach US$30m.

Global goals

The company also hopes to go global within the next five years, with its research and formulation unit presently working towards becoming internationally GMP-compliant.

It also intends to increase its current workforce of 550 to 750 within the next six months.

Arora said, "We will be exporting nutraceuticals, probiotics, and phyto-pharmaceutical formulations outside India. However, as of now, no zones have been finalised for export of Microbac GG."

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