Industry in brief | Probi, Karo, Venture Life, RB

19 July 2019 - Deborah Wilkes

Probi and Karo Pharma have released financial results, Venture Life is pushing on with international expansion, and RB has agreed to pay up to USD1.4 billion to settle a US investigation.

Probi's sales up by 17%

Probi's worldwide sales increased by 17% as reported to SEK319 million (USD33.8 million) in the first half of 2019. At constant currencies, the rise was 14%.

Tom Rönnlund, chief executive officer of the Swedish probiotics specialist, said growth had been driven by "success for Probi's products and new customers in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, combined with growth in the North American market based on normalisation of a major customer's order flow".

Probi pointed out that it had recently introduced a new product concept in Sweden. The company is offering a range of products adapted for consumers of all ages, including Probi Baby, Probi Gravid, Probi Family and Probi Active 50+. They complement the existing Probi Mage and Probi Frisk.

Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) were up by 41.5% to SEK84.7 million in the first half of 2019. The EBITDA margin was 26.6%.

Karo struggles in second quarter

Swedish specialty pharmaceutical company Karo Pharma reported sales of SEK387 million (USD41.0 million) in the second quarter of 2019, representing a fall of 21% compared to the same period a year earlier.

Excluding one-off income in the second quarter of 2018, sales decreased by 4%.

The company's Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) were SEK103 million in the second quarter of 2019, down from SEK232 million a year earlier. The EBITDA margin was 26.5%.

Around 25% of Karo's sales in the first half of 2019 were generated by OTC drugs, led by the Paracet pain reliever with sales of SEK71.7 million.

Karo announced in June 2019 that it was acquiring Swedish consumer healthcare company Trimb Healthcare from Avista Capital Partners for SEK3.4 billion (click here to read the News story).

The news came soon after private-equity firm EQT took a majority stake in Karo in January 2019.

Karo acquired Norwegian consumer healthcare company Weifa – including its Paracet and Ibux pain relievers – in 2017.

Venture Life expands outside UK

Self-care group Venture Life launched products with 11 international partners during the first half of 2019 as part of its continued international market expansion.

The UK-based company said the Dentyl mouthwash was now available in seven markets, including the UK and Ireland, compared with just four prior to the acquisition in August 2018 (click here to read the News story).

Furthermore, Venture Life said its UltraDEX oral-care products were now available in 20 countries including the UK and Ireland.

Myco Clear for fungal nail infections had been launched in Portugal through Jaba Recordati and more recently in France, said Venture Life, while Procto-eze Plus for haemorrhoids and Vonalei women's health products had been launched in Israel through Taro Pharmaceuticals.

RB reaches USD1.4 billion settlement

RB has agreed to pay up to USD1.4 billion to settle a US investigation into the sales and marketing of Suboxone Film by its former prescription pharmaceuticals business Indivior.

The UK-based company said the agreement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would "fully resolve all federal investigations" into RB in connection with the Indivior indictment.

Noting that it denied "all allegations that it engaged in any wrongful conduct", RB said the agreement avoided the "costs, uncertainty and distraction associated with continued investigations, litigation and the potential for an indictment". 

Indivior was demerged from RB in 2014.

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