Nestlé agrees joint venture with China MediTech

NSP will develop nutritional and medical products derived from botanical plants

NSP will research, develop, manufacture and market innovative nutritional and medicinal products

Nestlé Health Science, a subsidiary of Swiss food producer Nestlé, has agreed a 50:50 tie-up with Hong Kong-based pharmaceutical and healthcare group Hutchison China MediTech (Chi-Med).

The new joint venture, to be called Nutrition Science Partners (NSP), will develop, manufacture and market nutritional and medicinal products derived from botanical plants. Its initial focus will be on gastrointestinal health, possibly expanding in the future into metabolic disease and brain health areas.

The new partnership will give Nestlé Health Science access to Chi-Med’s traditional Chinese medicine library of more than 50,000 extracts from more than 1,200 different herbal plants and its world-class expertise. It will allow Nestlé Health Science to build on its ambition to explore personalised healthcare combining nutrition, drugs and diagnostics.

NSP will be funded primarily through an undisclosed capital investment from Nestlé Health Science, with further milestone payments linked to the success of clinical and commercial activities.

Nestle Health Science will gain access to a traditional Chinese medicine library of more than 50,000 extracts from more than 1,200 different herbal plants

‘This JV provides Nestlé Health Science with an opportunity to develop and commercialise truly innovative and scientifically validated botanical-based nutrition for personalised healthcare in gastrointestinal health,’ said Luis Cantarell, president and CEO at Nestlé Health Science.

‘Nestlé Health Science will bring unique competencies in nutritional sciences, diagnostics and commercial capabilities, and Chi-Med will provide its traditional Chinese medicine library and discovery platform, which will be the basis of Nutrition Science Partners’ future gastrointestinal pipeline.’

We will succeed in bringing a stream of novel botanical medicines and nutritional products to market

Christian Hogg, CEO of Chi-Med, added: ‘We are confident that by harnessing the resources of our two groups, we will succeed in bringing a stream of novel botanical medicines and nutritional products to market and in so doing build significant value for patients and for our shareholders.’

Hutchison MediPharma, a subsidiary of Chi-Med, is already advanced in the development of a botanical product, HMPL-004, an oral therapy for inflammatory bowel disease. Its main ingredient is extracted from the andrographis paniculata herb used in traditional Chinese medicine.

The new partnership will further support the development of the drug, which is scheduled to start Phase III trials for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease early next year.

Nestlé Health Science is active in the acute disease sectors of ageing medical care, critical care and surgery, and paediatric medical care. It is also developing new approaches to chronic diseases in the areas of gastrointestinal health, metabolic health and brain health.

The new partnership will support the development of an oral therapy for inflammatory bowel disease

The joint venture was made possible through Nestlé’s acquisition of US gastrointestinal diagnostics company Prometheus through its diagnostics and in-licensed specialist pharmaceuticals in gastroenterology and oncology, which help patients manage their condition from diagnostics to treatment. It provides Nestlé Health Science with the opportunity to establish this approach for patients outside the US.

The company has made a number of investments to build on its gastrointestinal portfolio including a minority stake in New Zealand-based Vital Foods and the acquisition of CM&D Pharma.

To expand its portfolio of clinical nutritional solutions for metabolic disorders, Nestlé Health Science acquired UK-based Vitaflo. And to boost its brain health portfolio, it acquired a stake in US firm Accera.

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