Sugardown is based on mannan, a plant polysaccharide that Boston Therapeutics derives from fenugreek and guar gum. The Manchester, NH-based company has been developing the ingredient for a number of years and has a two-pronged line of business based on the ingredient. In the guise of BTI-320, the company is developing the ingredient as a drug, which is about to enter Phase III clinical trials for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
In bringing the ingredient to market first as a dietary supplement, BTI has followed a trail blazed by a of a number of other companies. Biothera, for example, has had significant success selling its Wellmune WGT, an immune health ingredient based on a beta glucan derived from yeast, as a dietary supplement, while at the same time pursuing an active pharmaceutical development program. This two pronged approach provides a number of advantages, said BTI’s chief financial officer Tony Squeglia.
“Obviously, we get revenue, for one thing,” Squeglia told NutraIngredients-USA. “But as the same time we are building a base of customers for the eventual introduction of the pharmaceutical.”
The ingredient’s mode of action is to inhibit the action the enzymes that release glucose from complex carbohydrate in foods during digestion, reducing the amount of available glucose absorbed through the intestine. While that would presume fewer total calories absorbed, BTI is staying away from any weight management claims, Squeglia said.
“One could make an assumption that if it inhibits up to 40% of the glucose from entering the bloodstream, that that would mean fewer calories absorbed. But we don’t make any claims along that line,” he said.
The Phase III trial aims has HbA1c levels (a measure of glycosylated hemoglobin, or blood sugar) and post-prandial area under the curve, Squeglia said. The dietary supplement, which is in a chewable delivery format, is focused tightly on blood sugar management. And BTI is careful to keep the drug and supplement realms of the marketing strategy for the ingredient separate, he said.
“It’s about blood sugar levels. The marketing strategy is a message of diet, exercise and Sugardown. We don’t make and drug-type claims on the supplement. We talk about management of healthy glycemic blood levels,” Squeglia said.
Benchworks has mapped out a campaign that includes online sales and an eventual brick-and-mortar presence, Squeglia said. “It’s going to be a multifaceted campaign,” said Charlotte Zang, spokesperson for Benchworks.
“The opportunity is large. If you think about the US alone, you you have something like 80 million people who are pre-diabetic and 30 million who have true Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. So the potential market is huge,” Squeglia said.