Business Development and Licensing Manager
IBSA | Switzerland
IBSA is a pharmaceutical company with peculiarities that make it stand out in the industry sectors it operates in. When and in what circumstances was the company created? Where does the company stand today in terms of products and services it offers?
The company was established in Lugano in 1945, but started developing its special identity in 1985 when it was acquired by the current ownership, which adopted a new strategy focused on the acquisition of technological resources and launched a development programme aimed at consolidating its global expansion and developing company assets. Today IBSA boasts an extensive product portfolio that includes different therapeutic categories, such as prescription drugs, OTC medicines, medical devices and food supplements, and covers 10 therapeutic areas.
The company’s production lines are characterised by state-of-the-art technology and R&D activities employ latest-generation technologies to optimise the bioavailability, efficacy and safety of existing active substances and supplements in order to develop simpler, more evolved treatment systems.
IBSA is a popular brand in the marketplace also thanks to its nutritional supplements. The company is a pharmaceutical business and, until a few years ago (and perhaps still today), the world of pharmaceuticals and functional nutrition seemed quite separated. Is that a wrong perception? If not, are things changing?
It's a teamwork! The role of dietary supplements as a health maintenance aid is even more significant when linked to the advice of experienced professionals such as doctors and pharmacists.
On many occasions the purchase of a supplement occurs together with that of a prescription drug. In these cases, therefore, it can be assumed that the purchase can be traced back to the doctor's advice on nutraceutical products that complete a specific treatment.
Which kind of countries are interested in IBSA nutritional products portfolio?
IBSA food supplements and vitamins are suitable for those structured markets that are looking for high quality, innovative products with a strong scientific background. The countries interested in IBSA nutritional products portfolio are those where the consumers demand is driven by an increasing attention to health and prevention and also a greater customization of needs for different segments of the population.
We are targeting those markets where consumers consider the differentiation towards competitors and the technology innovation an added value.
Where IBSA would like to expand by bringing its nutraceutical products and technologies?
Today the Group consists of 15 companies, subsidiaries and branch offices, in Europe, China and the United States. IBSA intends to expand also in countries where its own subsidiaries are not present: mainly in South-East Asia (Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Korea and Japan), and in LATAM countries (Argentina, Brazil and Mexico). The Group's product portfolio is wide and can cover the different needs of the above mentioned countries.
Has demand for these products changed with the pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated trends and caused extraordinary changes across multiple industries. During the pandemic the nutraceuticals industry realized significant growth and investment: sales grew faster than expected in nearly every market, driven by the news that vitamins and supplements could boost baseline nutritional status, thus enhancing resilience against the disease. This scenario could positively affect the demand of supplements also in the next future and enhance the awareness of consumers towards the benefits of nutraceutical products.
Going into more details, types of packaging are important for any products, especially pharmaceutical products, where packaging must comply with a number of production criteria and norms. IBSA has recently developed particularly innovative technologies in terms of packaging. Could you tell us more about this, for instance in terms of drug delivery systems, technology for capsules, patches, etc?
Over the years, IBSA’s researchers have developed innovative technologies, novel formulations and delivery systems such as softgel capsules, orodispersible films, pre-filled syringes, patches (hydrogel and drug-in-adhesive), BoV (Bag-on-Valve), gonadotropins purification process, progesterone & ßciclodestrine, single dose strip, Nahyco® hybrid technology, device for intravesical instillation.
In particular for the nutraceutical market IBSA offers three specific innovations, suitable to satisfy every formulative need:
- the exclusive PEARLtec technology, a process for obtaining softgel that makes it possible for a liquid matrix, in a suspension or a gel, to be incorporated into a tasteless and odourless gelatine capsule. Easy and practical to swallow, it improves both the oral intake of the medicinal or supplemental product and patient compliance. PEARLtec technology permits the formulation and realisation both of medicines and nutraceuticals in a vast range of forms and colours.
- the Orodispersible Films represent a brand-new concept in the oral administration of medicines and supplements, overcoming the need for either water or swallowing. They take the form of small, thin, flexible sheets, that, when placed inside the mouth, dissolve rapidly in contact with saliva releasing its active ingredients very rapidly.
Cosmetic and free-sale patches.
They are based on drug-in-adhesive technology and designed to deliver to the skin cosmetic substance, to exert soothing actions, draining effect or to hydrate the skin.
Same examples are : patches with natural active ingredients (mountain arnica, achillea, peppermit, lavander for its warming and soothing effect, caffeine for its slimming effect) - patches with essential oils (oils extracted from medicinal herbs and plants that are decongestants and used for aromatherapy) - Keratolytic patches (with salicylic acid, having keratolytic action to reduce thickened areas of skin).
What technologies does IBSA plan to develop in the future to cope with an increasingly evolving supplement market?
In the future IBSA plans to further develop the orodispersible films (ODF), a new form of administration that offers a wide range of possibilities to differentiate the product in the nutritional market. The main ingredient of an ODF is the film-forming polymer, which can also be a blend of two or more polymers, usually combined with a flavouring to improve palatability and a colouring, to improve its appearance. Orodispersible films release their ingredients very rapidly and can therefore make their absorption easier and quicker than with a tablet or capsule.
ODFs are individually-packaged in heat-sealed sachets, in order to preserve their mechanical properties, avoid contact with atmospheric humidity and guarantee adequate stability. Individual packaging, combined with a limited size and weight make the individual dose unit convenient, even for use outside the home, in all situations, because it does not need to be taken with water.
Orosoluble preparations such as ODFs are the preferred oral form for most people. For certain user categories, such as dysphagic, bed-ridden and elderly subjects, those who have problems taking water and children, the use of ODFs instead of conventional oral forms becomes a necessity rather than a mere preference.