This is according to Yan Ting Yan who joined the nutrition giant last year. She was speaking at the 7th FSMP forum organised by the China Chamber of Commerce For Import & Export Of Medicines & Health Products (CCCMHPIE) on June 20, where she analysed the FSMP market in China.
The forum was held concurrently with the Healthplex Expo and Natural & Nutraceutical Products China 2023 in Shanghai.
In China, FSMPs are meant for providing nutritional support to individuals suffering from a specific disease, disorder, or a medical condition.
As of May 30, 115 FSMPs from 39 companies have been approved by the Chinese authorities, according to China Nutrition and Health Food Association.
Prior to year 2020, most FSMPs approved were manufactured by overseas firms but since then, more were coming from the domestic market.
Against this backdrop, Yan believes that China’s FSMP sector is poised for further growth.
“It is these 100 over products that held up the FSMP sector that is worth RMB$14bn (US$1.94bn). What does this mean? This means that each product is worth over RMB$100m (US$13.9m), which is a spectacular amount, and also goes to show that this is a sector to watch out for,” she said, citing data from Transparency Market Research.
Adding that the market demand for FSMP is huge, she pointed out that the lack of good nutrition, which means that hospital patients would be the key consumer group for the FSMP market.
“Lack of good nutrition is the cause of mortality in hospitals and who are the ones lacking good nutrition the most?
“It is the hospital patients and individuals suffering from tumour related conditions,” she said, adding how hospital nutritionists and pharmacies would be instrumental in recommending and selling FSMPs to the consumers.
“The FSMP market also grew rapidly in COVID-19 because public got to recognise that medical food is good. For example, protein FSMPs could be used to reduce risk of surgery complications and infections.”
However, there remains high barriers of entry into the FSMP sector in China.
Citing the example of the company’s product, Oral Impact Su Yi Su, she said the firm spent a few years in securing its approval as a FSMP, although the formulation was previously approved for sale as a medicine in the country.
The product, launched last year as a FSMP, is designed for patients suffering from tumour-related conditions and is said to the first of its kind in China.
Containing arginine, fish oil omega 3, and nucleotide on top of other basic nutritional ingredients, it was formulated to address inflammation and compromised immunity in patients.
“There are high barriers of entry into China’s FSMP sector. Su Yi Su took a few years to be approved as a FSMP although it was previously sold in China’s hospital pharmacies as prescription drug before year 2013 for about 10 years.
“It is also sold overseas for over 30 years and is backed by more than 80 clinical trial evidence involving 6,000 individuals.
“Even so, we spent about three years in getting the FSMP approval for this product. And so, for many domestic companies which are starting their FSMP business from scratch, I believe this would be an arduous process for them,” she said.
Pros and cons for pharma firms
During the forum, China Nutrition and Health Food Association’s vice secretary general Guo Hai Feng also said that pharmaceutical companies could tap on their expertise in expanding China’s FSMP market.
“Pharmaceutical firms could tap on their various strengths. For example, they have the know-how and retail strength across hospitals. They have the capital and technical capability to develop FSMPs and they have the brand power to do so,” he said.
Nonetheless, he cautioned pharmaceutical firms to take note of their weaknesses, such as the lack of regulatory knowledge for FSMP.