One reason why the category is not receiving enough attention is because most liver problems are asymptomatic in the early stages.
“Today, with the internet, information is available everywhere, so consumer awareness about liver health is also increasing [but] as compared to the other [health] areas, there is still a large gap.
“We know that the early stages of liver injuries are mostly asymptomatic, and people do not realise that they have the problem until it is too late,” Nicholas Cheong, chief business officer at Nova Laboratories said.
For Nova Laboratories, the company has developed a product using Phyllanthus niruri – a botanical native to Malaysia and traditionally used to treat jaundice.
Known as Hepar-P, the product has been shown to be safe and could significantly reduce elevated levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) enzymes – a sign of liver damage – in patients suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as compared to patients on placebo.
The 52-week RCT was conducted in three hospitals in Malaysia and the findings have been submitted for scientific publication.
The other challenge facing the category is that liver health is often seen as an "abstract" concept and consumers may find it difficult to understand its relevance.
“I don’t think most people see liver health as something ‘concrete’. What do people even mean when they talk about liver health? They don’t feel anything with regard to the liver.
“Most people see liver health as a very abstract concept that is hard to quantify. So I think for the industry, it will be better if we can boil down to concrete concepts, that is what we strive to do at DrinkAid,” Solomon Poon, co-founder and head of product and operations at DrinkAid said.
In this case, the company conveys the benefits of DrinkAid by highlighting how it could reduce Asian flush by reducing acetaldehyde levels and hangover symptoms after a drinking session.
Research has shown that acetaldehyde is one of the key culprits that mediate fibrogenic and mutagenic effects of alcohol in the liver.
Since the product was launched over a year ago, the company noticed that there has been a growing uptake and the product is on track to generating SGD$300k (US$221K) in revenue.
“The traction that we have received so far is pretty healthy, we are on track to achieving our $300k revenue for the year.
“The key users of our product are mainly working professionals, people in the banking and legal industry who have to drink to network,” Ryan Foo, co-founder and head of marketing and legal at DrinkAid said.
Watch to find out more.