CEO Brian Watson told us that Australia presented the most immediate opportunity for the New Zealand firm, while it continued to work with iNova to assess the landscape in South East Asia.
“We have been working hard to find the right partner for Australia and South East Asia for some time,” he said, “and iNova has considerable pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare experience. They are also very strong in the pharmacy channel, which is our priority.”
Blis currently market two strains of probiotic bacteria – BLIS K12 and BLIS M18 – both of which occur naturally in the oral cavity. However, only around 2% of the population have these healthy bacteria at levels high enough to be effective.
It is BLIS K12 that was recently included in the TGA’s Therapeutic Goods (Permissible Ingredients) Determination for use in listed complementary medicines, and the firm is now working to achieve the same for M18.
BLIS K12 was originally developed into a probiotic supplement to support throat health, but subsequent studies have also revealed its positive impact on the ear nose and throat health of infants and children, and is also effective in improving halitosis.
BLIS M18, meanwhile, promotes the healthy bacterial balance for dental health.
Under the new agreement, iNova Pharmaceuticals has exclusive distribution rights for BLIS branded products across Australia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia.
Watson added: “iNova Pharmaceuticals has a strong presence in the pharmacy channel and a proven track record of establishing category-leading brands in consumer health care.
"Working with a partner of this calibre will provide the right capability and resourcing to effectively establish BLIS branded products in multiple markets across the iNova Pharmaceuticals network. Our focus initially will be to finalise our plans for the Australian market but also to progress launch plans for other markets across Asia and Africa.”
He added the the agreement builds on the success of Blis Technologies’ new distribution relationship in New Zealand with Radiant Health, which also holds the distribution rights for the iNova Pharmaceuticals product range locally.
“Radiant has demonstrated its ability to leverage its presence in the market to help grow the BLIS range,” he added.
At our Probiota Asia summit last year, Blis’ Dr John Hale shared some recent trial data, which showed the oral health benefits of the K12 product.
He highlighted a recent study on three-year-olds entering kindergarten, where the preventative effect of the K12 strain of Streptococcus salivarius on the rate of strep throat and otitis media was assessed.
After having been given one lozenge a day for six months, it was observed that there was a reduced occurrence of sore throat and otitis media, and the effect continued for three months.
This was an example of the proactive protective effect of the K12 strain in environments with a high chance of infection, and reduced the need for antibiotics, he said.
The paper noted: "Prophylactic administration of S. salivarius K12 to children with a history of recurrent oral streptococcal disease resulted in a considerable reduction of episodes of both streptococcal and viral infections, and reduced the number of days under antibiotic and / or antipyretic therapy and days of absence from school."
Probiota Asia returns to Singapore next month. Find out more here.