A pill a day keeps the doctor away: Tracking the rise of Deccan Healthcare

Born in the quest for ‘vegetarian’ Omega-3, Deccan Healthcare now has 1,500 nutraceuticals

January 20, 2019 10:18 pm | Updated January 21, 2019 11:01 am IST

Healthy balanced dieting concept. Selection of rich fiber sources vegan food. Vegetables fruit seeds beans ingredients for cooking. Copy space background

Healthy balanced dieting concept. Selection of rich fiber sources vegan food. Vegetables fruit seeds beans ingredients for cooking. Copy space background

Omega-3 is an important fatty acid with immense health benefits for the body and brain. It is found in abundance in fish oil and many pharmaceutical companies extract the oil to develop it into a pill for daily dosage.

While the health benefits of Omega-3 cannot be disputed, many — especially vegetarians in India — have reservations having it due to the source of the oil.

Bioscientist Minto Gupta was well aware of this, having worked in the pharmaceutical sector for decades. He decided to develop a solution sourced from plants instead of fish, and his specialisation in the nutraceutical segment only helped him further in his endeavour.

“It took me 10 years of research to come out with an Omega-3 product that was extracted purely from plants,” said Mr. Gupta, chairman and managing director, Deccan Healthcare.

“It is found in high concentration in apricot, walnut, almonds and flax seeds. We launched the product in 2006 and in two years, it became quite popular,” he added.

Incidentally, this was the first product launch for Deccan Health Care, a Hyderabad-based entity that got listed on the SME platform of the BSE in December and since then, has grown into a company with a market capitalisation in excess of ₹200 crore.

The company was started in 1996 and while the first product launch took 10 years, the SME currently has a bouquet of 1,500 nutraceutical products, all sourced from food ingredients.

Disease prevention

“Nutraceutical as a term was coined in the 1990s. While pharmaceutical deals with the treatment and management of a disease, nutraceutical works on prevention. We work on products that help people avoid sickness,” said the 62-year old Mr. Gupta.

The company works on the concept of Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) that lays down the quantum of nutrients that a human body needs through food intake. Due to various reasons, however, the body does not get the required dosage leading to sickness or ailments.

“There are many factors like lifestyle or dietary habits due to which we do not get the required nutrients. To address that gap, we have developed pills. It is like ‘a pill a day will keep the doctor away’,” said Mr. Gupta, who has a degree in biochemistry having studied in prestigious institutes such as Banaras Hindu University and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR).

Before starting Deccan Healthcare, Mr. Gupta worked with Ranbaxy and the Tata Group, where he researched health supplements for 12 years.

Starting his own venture was not easy for Mr. Gupta, who came from a salaried background. For the first few years, he traded in over the counter pharmaceutical products to fund his company.

After his first product — Omega-3 — became popular, he followed it up with Omega-7, which was in a way an advanced version of the first product.

“Everyone loves skin that babies have, for its softness. Research has shown that baby skin has a high composition of Omega-7 and since everyone loves to have soft skin like babies do, we launched our second product for soft skin,” he said.

The company sells its products through its own portal — beyoungstore.com — and has seen around 100-150 new visitors visiting the site every day. According to Mr. Gupta, about 30-40 visitors buy a product every day and the total number of visitors has been growing at the rate of 1,500 to 2,000 every month.

The highest demand is for hair care products followed by categories like bone and joints, eyes and libido.

“Our total product offerings take care of 311+ diseases that are caused by deficiency of some or the other kind of food nutrient.” said Mr. Gupta, who has set up a plant at Pantnagar, Uttarakhand.

Last year, the company raised around ₹42 crore through its public issue and used the proceeds to pay off the debt and also buy packaging machinery.

According to the company’s prospectus, it registered a net profit of ₹3.54 crore in 2015-16, which rose to ₹9.54 in the financial year 2016-17. While 2017-18 saw the firm clocking a profit of ₹12.69 crore, the profit for the first quarter of the current fiscal was pegged at ₹2.56 crore. Total revenues rose from ₹16.18 crore in 2015-16 to ₹39.76 crore in 2017-18.

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