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Supplement with New & Unique Formulation - Specific Questions

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Keith15203

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Jan 19, 2021
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Hi All,

In brainstorming potential Fastlane products/projects, I keep returning to the nutraceutical/supplements niche. I know many members here will have considered those ideas and I have read many of the posts cautioning again that space due to it being saturated and competitive.

However, the nutraceutical/supplements space is a potential place for me to utilize expertise that I already have . I have a technical background (chemistry PhD, currently an associate professor of medicinal chemistry), I have done research on natural products, teach natural products, teach pharmaceuticals in multiple therapeutic areas (mostly oncology and infectious diseases), and the main focus of my research is in early stage stage drug discovery in oncology.

I was slowly starting to consider this area late last week when an idea actually reached out and found me over the weekend. My nephew, who is seriously into fitness & lifting and with whom I've kicked around the idea of working on a supplement, reached out to me asking if I would be able to make a specific product. It's a new product in an existing supplement area that appears to be giving people fantastic results - to the point my nephew can't get his hands on it because it sells out so quickly.

We spent several hours discussing the existing information and what he knows about it. After that I did some scientific literature searching which allowed me to substantiate that there is scientific data backing up the observed in vivo human effects (cellular and animal studies) as well as at least one of the limitations of the original supplement, which has been around for a while, but has largely been ineffective. Ideas on a specific new product and how to position & market the new product were already immediately coming to mind based on the scientific data.

It turns out that the "hot new product" that is selling out fast is a new formulation of the existing product that overcomes at least some of the ineffectiveness in vivo.

Now that I understand their product, I can think of at least 5 other alternative ways to formulate the old ineffective product into something new and unique of my own, different from the "new hot product" that's already been developed. So My Unique Product Part 1 would be a new formulation of my own based on my expertise as a Medicinal Chemist and designed from all the known scientific data plus that of the "hot new product".

My Unique Product Part 2 is that once I have My Unique Product/Formulation, I plan to run all the assays needed to accumulate the scientific data to show how My Unique Product/Formulation stacks up against/is better than the "new hot product/formulation" and the old ineffective product. I know exactly what experiments need to be done and many/all of these can be outsourced. Depending of how it goes and costs I could probably even do a small scale animal study, using the same design as one of the studies in the already published peer-reviewed literature.

With My Unique Product/Formulation and my scientific data in place, I would then plan to roll out and market the product using known industry models - partner with high performance athletes for initial proof of concept trials, use those to build initial social proof, and then market using influencers, direct marketing, affiliate marketing, etc.

My only hesitation is that I would at minimum be the second product of this type to the market - by definition being a "me too" drug. I think it's still a worthwhile endeavor for several reasons including:
  • My formulation could be superior to the original innovator in the area
  • Consumers often like to have more than one product to choose from
  • Not all product/formulations are going to work equally well for all people - this is why choice is good for the consumer
  • If I can underpin my product/formulation with better/more scientific data, that may sway consumer choice
  • I can patent my formulation to create IP (a long term asset) and prevent others from exploiting at least that one type of formulation

Now that I've hopefully laid out the idea and concept, I have some specific questions for Forum Members that have worked in this area:
  • Has anyone created and taken to market a new formulation in this way?
  • Does anyone know the regulatory framework that you have to follow for supplements/nutraceuticals in general or new formulations in general?
  • Do supplements have to be made and formulated under GMP conditions?
  • Can anyone recommend any companies they have used for supplement manufacturing, formulation, or dosage form packaging/bottling?

Everything in my current research and professional life has been geared towards pharmaceuticals that are FDA-approved. I know there's not really any FDA regulation of the claims of efficacy of supplements, but I'm assuming that they still have to be manufactured, formulated, and put into dosage form under GMP conditions since they are going into humans (this may be a bad assumption, hence my questions here).

I appreciate any and all feedback that anyone has to give.

Thanks,
Keith
 

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Kid

Gold Contributor
Speedway Pass
Mar 1, 2016
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Your post reads like really well made pitch (which is good).
As for this:
I know there's not really any FDA regulation of the claims of efficacy of supplements,
There are rules, that don't allow you to claim anything that isn't laboratory tested.
I'm not sure if its in FDA regulation or other bills but if you claim something in ad or label you have to have it verified. Other wise you're asking for troubles.

Anyway that's all i can tell on supplements - good luck with your product!
 

Mutant

Silver Contributor
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Jan 8, 2018
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Alas I can't help you much with the specifics here, as it's outside my area, but I can affirm you're on the right track with your thinking that it's worthwhile to be "second to market". I've dealt with some "first" or "early" to market situations, & consumer education can be an uphill battle. Explaining an improvement on something they already buy/are interested in/understand can be a lot easier.


An imperfect analogy as it's not new, but I had to read a fair bit about supplementing with vitamin d3 before I bought in started taking it.

Compare:
"Do you want to buy some d3?"
"Hmm, I don't know, do I? Let me look into that."
*seller starts listing reasons why*
(& to be honest, I didn't even start looking for a seller, until I'd read some stuff elsewhere myself)

To:
"Do you want to get the same d3 caps you usually do, but made with an oil you would buy to eat, instead of one you wouldn't?"
"Yes. That seems like a no brainer."
*seller needs to do no further work*


My only hesitation is that I would at minimum be the second product of this type to the market - by definition being a "me too" drug. I think it's still a worthwhile endeavor for several reasons including:
  • My formulation could be superior to the original innovator in the area
  • Consumers often like to have more than one product to choose from
  • Not all product/formulations are going to work equally well for all people - this is why choice is good for the consumer
  • If I can underpin my product/formulation with better/more scientific data, that may sway consumer choice
  • I can patent my formulation to create IP (a long term asset) and prevent others from exploiting at least that one type of formulation

Yes for all these reasons AND put effort into having superior branding. Sell to the emotions as well as their logic. I trust you'll get the logic part down, so this is just a reminder that some people will buy, just because it looks better (it's not just a "cool factor" especially in supplementation it increases trust, because bad graphics make the contents seem sketchy too).


And Kid's right, your post does already read like a good pitch to me too! I'm already half sold :rofl:
 

Johnny boy

Platinum Contributor
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May 9, 2017
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Selling supplements is almost all marketing. A good marketer could make a good living selling sugar pills and run laps around you selling your product that's actually new and improved. You know what actual innovation does in the supplements industry? It raises costs which lower profits. Good luck running profitable ads. If I can bottle up cheap oil and basic vitamins for pennies, and you spend .30 a pill to make your stuff, I can still say "our PHD created, super high tech, new and improved formula" just like you can, except I can afford a $3 CPM and you can't. Or I'll be winning because I was smart enough to pay $40 for a sponsored post on a bodybuilder's Instagram page. It's marketing.
 

MoreVolume

Bronze Contributor
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Oct 6, 2016
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I'm in the supplement industry
I've connected with 4 people on this site who had supplement brands
none lengthen are standing today
it's all about marketing. No one cares about how advanced the formulation is, or your academic background. This is coming from a chemist
 

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