New Neptune CEO on Investing in Pharma and Rebuilding


New president and CEO Jim Hamilton says the company is now focused on rebuilding, including moving towards a heart-health Phase III clinical trial.

Krill ingredients supplier Neptune Technologies & Bioressources' (Laval, QC, Canada) new president and CEO Jim Hamilton told Nutritional Outlook at Natural Products Expo West that the company is now focused on rebuilding, including moving towards a Phase III heart-health clinical trial.

“Neptune has got great bones,” said the longtime industry member and former vice president, human nutrition and health, North America, for DSM Nutritional Products USA Inc. “It’s a pioneering company. It’s one that started this business of krill omega-3 phospholipids. It has a lot of IP. It has a lot of talent. But it’s also gone through some horrific times,” he said, referring to a fatal 2012 explosion at the company’s plant in Sherbrooke, QC, Canada. The company has since resumed production at the rebuilt and improved plant. Hamilton adds, “This wonderful growth projection and culture faced something that almost no company faces, and that is an industrial calamity. It was just horrific news. But in and of itself, just from a tragic standpoint, I also really respect the people in term of what they did to keep continuity of business going. So when I say 'good bones,' I think that it has this good foundation of IP, this good foundation of the science base, and a team of people that just wouldn’t give up. And not many companies face that.”

Neptune is now looking toward the future, he said, with three new condition-specific formulas launched last year-NKO Beat for heart and circulatory health, NKO Flex for bone and joint support, and NKO Focus targeting brain and vision support.

The company is also investing in its pharmaceutical business with Acasti Pharma (Neptune owns 50% of the company). Acasti recently finished Phase II trials on its CaPre high-triglycerides prescription drug “candidate” for heart health. Hamilton said Neptune is now applying for a Phase III trial. “If we can demonstrate in these Phase III trials what we saw in these Phase II trials, I think it will reshape the omega-3 space,” he said, adding, “That’s where our big investment in science is going on right now.”

The omega-3 market, he said, is very much in need of a leading presence. “I think one of the dilemmas in our business, especially in omega-3s, is a lack of brand leadership,” he said. “There are very few, outside a one or two, who are investing to communicate the message to consumers. When you look at, for instance, the omega-3 space, there’s virtually no brand leadership. And now, through GOED, we’ve been trying to coalition to get people to invest and get the message out. [Read more on the new Omega-3 Coalition here:] But you could argue this is the job of the brands, but they’re not doing it in the omega-3 space. There are big companies out there that are selling lots in this space, and I don’t see the investment into the GOED programs, I don’t see the investment in their own brands to communicate effectively to consumres about our products, the omega-3s in general.”

When asked if Neptune will help play a role in building the market, he said, “Yes, I do. Because in the end, I think specific to Neptune, there’s good fabric, good bones in IP, and good bones in science. There’s good people, and with that, good things happen.”


Jennifer Grebow
Nutritional Outlook magazine


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