FDA approves baby formula using Martek nutrients

Local company's finances could benefit later

July 11, 2002|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,SUN STAFF

The federal Food and Drug Administration has approved a formula for premature babies that uses a blend of nutrients created by Columbia-based Martek Biosciences Corp.

The formula, Enfamil Premature LIPIL, is made by Mead Johnson Nutritionals using two Martek nutrients that are the building blocks of a baby's eyes and brain.

Analysts said yesterday that approval of the formula won't have an immediate effect on Martek's finances but that it could benefit the company later.

"The premature market is so small that this won't have a significant impact on finances right now, but with the strength of these ingredients, I would expect to see it in all formulas in the future," said Scott Van Winkle, an analyst with Boston-based Adams, Harkness & Hill.

Martek develops and sells products made from microalgae. Enfamil Premature contains a blend of Martek's docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA), both of which are found in breast milk.

It has been shown that DHA and ARA help the development of premature infants if received at the appropriate levels in the first several months of life.

"It's a great day for U.S. preemies," Martek Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Henry Linsert Jr. said in a statement. "Studies have shown that when you use the right levels of supplementation, in the right triglyceride or breast milk form, you see the right results."

The company's other products include nutritional supplements and food ingredients that might help promote mental and cardiovascular health in people of all ages, and fluorescent markers that detect genes and proteins.

Martek stock fell 23 cents a share yesterday to close at $15.76 on the Nasdaq stock market.

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