Probiotics in Myanmar: Botanical specialist sees huge scope for microbiome-boosting products

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

BioMune, Yangon-based FAME Pharmaceutical's latest probiotic launch for immune support.
BioMune, Yangon-based FAME Pharmaceutical's latest probiotic launch for immune support.

Related tags Myanmar Probiotics microbiome Immune health

Yangon-based FAME Pharmaceuticals is riding on the probiotics boom, with aggressive plans to expand its product range after introducing its first immunity-enhancement products.

The firm recently launched an immuno-enhancement probiotic sold under the brand name BioMune. 

Coming in the form of vegetarian capsules, it contains three probiotic strains: lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and streptococcus thermophilus.

Besides immune health, it also claims to maintain a healthy digestive system, support healthy skin and oral health, and improve the absorption of nutrients.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, ​Dr Khin Khin Htay, director of finance, said the firm had a strong heritage in botanicals, but was excited by the opportunities presented by probiotics.

This is in part due to the rising interest in probiotics and the body of scientific evidence supporting multiple health benefits, such as the gut-brain and gut-kidney axis.

“Some of the organic plant selections are also no longer popular, and after learning more about probiotics from a seminar, we understood the evidence that it can help with many problems, psychological, immune problems,”​ she said.

The company has previously focused on extracting bioactives from plants that claim to provide anti-cancer benefits.

This is still a key portfolio and the company has an organic farm spanning 45 acres in Pyin Oo Lwin – a mountainous region near Mandalay.

One of the projects is farming carrots to extract natural vitamin A.

On the other hand, BioMune is not the company’s first attempt in the probiotics space.

With 90 products in its entire portfolio, the company launched its first finished probiotic, Biogurt, about two years ago.

It seeks to prevent, treat diarrhoea and restore the gut flora after diarrhoea or antibiotic treatment.

It is also produced in the capsule form and contains the lactobacillus acidophilus ​and Bifidobacterium lactis ​strains.

“We are planning to launch a range of probiotic products for different health problems, such as auto-immune diseases, skin infection,” ​she added.

This year, the company intends to expand its product offering to 102. Besides a market presence in Myanmar, the company also has a showroom and sales centre in Singapore.

Education important

According to Dr Khin Khin Htay, there is a growing awareness about probiotic use in Myanmar, and products from Europe and the US have been well-received.

One of the more famous products, according to her, is Bioflo, which is for alleviating diarrhoea and loose motion.

“Most of the people know the advantage of taking probiotics, but it takes time to promote an item in the market.

“For the educated people, its quite easy. But for the non-educated people, probiotics are expensive,” ​she said, adding that it was vital to explain in detail the benefits of probiotics.

“If they understand the purpose for taking probiotics, they will buy it and take it regularly.”

BioMune is sold at K$20k (US$13.90) and Biogurt at K$10k (US$6.95).

They are sold on the company’s website, its retail stores, and prescribed by GPs.  

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