Iams Co. to put Martek oils in its pet formulas Bleaker news received about additives for infant formula


October 07, 1998|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,SUN STAFF

Martek Biosciences Corp. of Columbia said yesterday that Iams Co. has agreed to begin including Martek's nutritional oils as an additive in its Eukanuba brand of puppy and kitten nutrition formulas.

But that upbeat announcement was tempered by the news that a panel of nutritional experts told the Food and Drug Administration that it saw no reason to require including any new additives in infant formulas, including two oils that Martek makes and has been hoping to see break into the U.S. infant formula market.

Shares in publicly held Martek rose 25 cents to $7.50 yesterday.

Gregg Lampf, a spokesman for Martek, said the company expects the agreement with Iams to generate annual revenue of between $1 million and $2 million in the second full year of sales, 2000.

The Dayton, Ohio-based pet food maker is the first company in the pet supplies industry to agree to use Martek's oils in its products.

The oils -- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and AA (arachidonic acid) -- will primarily be used in formulas made for orphaned puppies and kittens and other young pets in need of supplemental nutrition, said Lampf.

Iams plans to market its Milk Replacer Puppy Formula and Milk Replacer Formula for Kittens directly to veterinarians and breeders, not the mass market, said Lampf.

The oils, developed from Martek's microalgae research, contain two long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Martek has pointed to a number of scientific studies which show long-chain fatty acids appear to aid brain and eye development in fetuses and newborns.

As for the report on infant formulas, the Life Sciences Research Office of the American Society for Nutritional Sciences did not recommend that the FDA mandate include Martek's oils in formulas sold in the United States.

Martek's oils were among 18 potential new infant formula ingredients that the panel reviewed. It did not recommend that any be required as additives in formulas.

The panel said the additives should be reassessed as new data from studies becomes available.

"We're frustrated and disappointed," said Lampf. "But we are not surprised. We have been saying from day one that we did not expect the panel to mandate inclusion of any additives. It's a missed opportunity for the U.S. to catch up."

Henry Linsert, Jr., Martek's chairman and chief executive officer, said the panel's report does not preclude infant formula makers from seeking FDA approval to use the oils in products sold in the United States, the world's biggest market for infant formula.

Martek has licensing agreements with six major infant formula makers, four of which use the oils as additives in products sold overseas. Lampf said infant formulas made with the oils currently are sold in 36 European and Asian countries.

The company reported nutritional oil sales of $619,000 in its third quarter ended July 31, compared with sales of $539,000 in the third quarter last year.

Pub Date: 10/07/98

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