Psychobiotics in South East Asia: Bened powering through with expansion plans for proprietary ingredient

By Cheryl Tay contact

- Last updated on GMT

Bened has moved into Malaysia with its proprietary psychobiotic, PS128. ©iStock
Bened has moved into Malaysia with its proprietary psychobiotic, PS128. ©iStock

Related tags: psychobiotics, Malaysia, Taiwan

Bened Biomedical is moving ahead with its expansion plans, most recently signing a multi-year agreement for its proprietary psychobiotic PS128 with Malaysian pharmaceutical firm Nuvanta.

Under the agreement, Nuvanta has exclusive distribution rights for its PS128 finished product, Nuva128, in Malaysia.

Nuva128 will be available in pharmacies, clinics, national chain stores and personal care stores in East and West Malaysia in the second quarter of 2019.

Commercial collaboration

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia​, Bened CEO Frankie Cheng said the two companies first made contact at an international conference on psychobiotics and the gut-brain axis, where Bened's chief founder and scientist Prof. Ying-Chieh Tsai, was a key speaker and seminar host.

He added that Nuvanta was "fascinated"​ with Bened's extensive work — including laboratory tests, human clinical studies, patents, papers and international awards — on PS128, and therefore initiated commercial collaboration after the conference.

Cheng said, "Since then, both sides have been fully committed to and actively engaged with product design, manufacturing and registration.

"To date, Nuva128 has been designed, registered and produced for the Malaysian market, and Nuvanta will have the full exclusive rights to distribute Nuva128 in Malaysia, starting in the second quarter of 2019."

Elaborating on the product itself, Cheng said Nuva128 came in vegetable capsule format, containing Bened’s psychobiotic, Lactobacillus plantarum ​PS128.

The capsules will be sold in batches of 30 per bottle, and consumers are advised to take one to three capsules a day, depending on their age and health condition.

Evidence for the everyman

Cheng noted that increasingly, consumers in Malaysia and elsewhere in Asia were developing an interest in probiotic products with strong clinical evidence to back their health claims, and proper registrations with the local authorities to ensure they were not counterfeits or unlicensed.

He said, "Due to the booming global development activities in the world of functional probiotics, the Malaysian market is moving in sync with the rest of the world to welcome novel functional probiotics.

"Nuva128 will target both children and adults who suffer from ASD (autism spectrum disorders), ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and mood disorders.

"It is a great manifestation and an example of the psychobiotic phenomenon and the exploration of the gut-brain axis; we trust that Nuvanta will leverage its well-established channels and brand to ensure a highly successful debut for Nuva128 in Q2."

Psychobiotics in South East Asia

Bened had previously made its presence known in Singapore, where two PS128 products were designed and launched: one was focused on improving mobility in the elderly, and the other was designed to lower stress levels in children and improve their focus for better learning.

Last year, the Taiwanese firm also took home the Probiotic Product of the Year Award​ for PS128 at the inaugural NutraIngredients-Asia Awards, which was held the evening before Vitafoods Asia kicked off.

Apart from Singapore and Malaysia, PS128 is already being used in finished products in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the US, and Bened is currently in talks with potential partners in Indonesia, India, Japan and South Korea for the distribution of PS128.

Cheng said, "There will be at least five other countries planned for a market launch in 2019. Several others have been planned for 2020 due to the extensive product registration period. Our strategy is to speed up our market launches through close collaboration with local partners and authorities."

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