Malaysia-based Hovid seeks US FDA nod for tocotrienols

PETALING JAYA: Investors may have overlooked Hovid Bhd’s pharmaceutical business and efforts to register tocotrienols (a type of Vitamin E) as a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug, said CIMB Investment Bank Bhd in a report.

It is currently sold as a dietary supplement under the brand name “Tocovid” but unlike drugs, dietary supplements cannot make the claim of being able to prevent, treat or cure illnesses due to regulatory restrictions.

“Hovid is seeking approval from the US FDA to sell Tocovid as a drug that could aid stroke patients. A mid-stage clinical trial would be carried out soon and the company is hopeful of obtaining approval as soon as in the next three to five years,” the report said.

The pharmaceutical company does not produce tocotrienols but owns the formulation patent that facilitates the absorption of tocotrienols by the human body. It would be sourced from its phytonutrient production arm, Carotech.

The bank-backed research house also said the approval would help the company increase its earnings. This is due to the unavailability of specific treatment to reduce brain damage in stroke patients.

The company exports to over 50 countries, with 52.5% of revenue in financial year 2013 consisting of exports.

The report also added that the next five years would see drug patents worth US$133bil in annual sales expire. “This allows Hovid to launch the generic versions of these drugs and expand its sales,” it said.

This is seen as another catalyst for Hovid, which started out as a herbal tea-maker in 1941 and started producing generic drugs in the 1980s.

Apart from the overseas front, the report added that Hovid would also gain from the Government’s plan to grant a three-year offtake agreement (OTA) via the Health Ministry to new generic drugs that were manufactured locally.

The OTA is extendable by another two years if the drug is exported. Currently, around 10% of its sales go to the ministry.

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