Dosage format innovation: Natural Products Expo West 2024 Report

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Innovations in dosage form solutions are allowing for more convenient and complex formulations that make supplementation easier for the end consumer.

Photo © Shutterstock.com/Jirus Malawong

Photo © Shutterstock.com/Jirus Malawong

Innovation in dosage formats is really pushing the boundaries of how nutraceuticals are consumed. Creativity abounds as brands devise ways to incorporate high amounts of active ingredients into smaller or more approachable packages. We would be remiss not to mention gummies, which is one of the fastest growing dosage formats on the market. At this year’s Natural Products Expo West, Sirio Pharma launched a gummy featuring 250 mg of EpiCor in a zero sugar formula. This is no easy task, as the postbiotic has a flavor that is not ideal for candy-like products.

Ed Shneyvas, head of R&D for Sirio Pharma explains that sugar does not just impart sweetness, but also contributes significantly to texture. This means that Sirio had to use a combination of different masking agents specific to the ingredient. These masking agents both enhanced the sweetness of the formulation while also covering up off flavor notes. To replace the textural components sugar imparts to confections, Sirio uses sugar alcohol and fibers, but because these are not typically as sweet as sugar, the company adds natural high intensity sweeteners such as stevia and monkfruit. Shneyvas explains that gummies are much better for compliance than other dosage formats, especially for kids.

Of course, gummies are only one of many options for alternative dosage formats, particularly as more brands explore functional food and beverage options. Wilson Lau, president of Nuherbs, told Nutritional Outlook that his company is seeing a huge amount of interest in alternative dosage formats through its recently launched Bespoke Extracts business. Most companies don’t have the tools or resources to deliver great tasting and most importantly, effective, alternative dosage format products, says Lau, but Nuherbs has been able to help brands deliver innovative products through creative solutions.

An example Lau offers is a joint health brownie a client asked for. The solution here was not to deliver the client brownies, but to give them a pre-blend they could use to mix and bake the brownies themselves. And because the solutions are dictated by the company, Nuherbs is able to help brands work within their wheelhouse, developing solutions that work best for them.

“It's really about what the client wants and needs. They can look at their [own] clients and portfolios, who their customers are, what the trends are and how they can best show up in that space,” says Lau. “We don't want to make a mushroom company become a coffee company or a coffee company add more caffeine through green tea. We want to make something that they think they can sell and sell well.”

When it comes to alternative dosage formats, Nuherb’s sister company NuTraditions showcased edible strips called Goodbye Fatigue for Energy & Focus. The strips are caffeine-free, utilizing organic ginseng and organic schisandra to promote energy, and come in a cinnamon flavor. Lau explains that NuTraditions was a brand created to make traditional Chinese medicine more accessible to the general public. These strips offer something that is portable, very convenient and easy to take, and has a footprint smaller than gummies.

That is not to say that more traditional dosage formats such as capsules are not seeing any innovation. In fact, there is still a great deal of innovation happening there, not just to compete with the alternative dosage formats, but to continuously push the boundaries of how much and how many actives can be delivered in single dose. Lonza, for example, is helping customers make increasingly more complex formulations by combining ingredients across categories that they feel fit specific consumers. These include putting joint health ingredients into products marketed for women’s health or combining joint and beauty ingredients into one product so that the aging consumer can get all the support they want from a single product.

“The problem is sometimes those ingredients don't always work so nicely so they need to come to us for a dosage form solution. And what that means is if you put either have a cap[sule] in a cap[sule], or a beadlet in a cap[sule],” explains Julianna Erickson, senior category marketing manager for Lonza. “And so what you can do is combine oil soluble ingredients with water soluble or dry ingredients in the inner cap. You can also have multi-phase if that's necessary. If [for example] they need to release in different parts of the digestive tract. Probiotics is a good example of that.”

They are also offering experiential solutions in the form of scented capsules that give off specific aromas. This is in line with gummies in the sense that it creates a pleasant experience during consumption; it’s interactive and something consumers can look forward to, explains Amy Sunderland, director of R&D ingredients for Lonza.

“If you had something like a sleep formula, consumers really associate lavender with sleep. They associate orange with cognitive health. So, consumers really associating these scents with like an actual benefit of the product itself,” says Erickson. “Consumers are really big on routines right now and they're taking different [dosage] forms than they used to be, especially beauty from within. And so [beauty from within] is a really good category for [aroma capsules], so they can remember and enjoy their beauty routine.”

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