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BASF buys omega-3 maker Equateq citing pharma potential

By Gareth Macdonald , 09-May-2012
Last updated on 09-May-2012 at 13:24 GMT

BASF has bought omega-3 fatty acid maker Equateq, citing its pharmaceutical and dietary supplements businesses as key beneficiaries.

Equateq operates a facility on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland and produces omega-3 fatty acids using ‘unique’ technology that enables ‘exceptional purity levels’ according to BASF spokesman Andres-Christian Orthofer.

Equateq is the global leader in the production of highly concentrated omega-3 fatty acids, in particular for pharmaceutical grades of EPA and DHA with single-lipid concentrations of up to 99% purity” Orthofer told in-Pharmatechnologist.com.

He went on to say that Equateq's proprietary chromatographic separation methods allow flexible blending and formulation of omega-3 fatty acids at exceptional purity levels, which he predicted would provide BASF with a significant advantage in the market.

The capabilities of Equateq’s technologies will allow us to react to changing market demands and to offer bespoke omega-3 fatty acid concentrates with exceptional purity according to customer needs.”

Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. However, BASF did confirm that Equateq’s 47-strong workforce has joined its nutrition and health division.

Growing market

News of the acquisition follows a few months after BASF’s plant science unit teamed up with Cargill to create a new source of omega-3 fatty acid derived from GM canola oil and suggests the German firm sees potential for the ingredient in a number of markets.

This idea was further supported by Orthofer, who told in-Pharmatechnologist.com that: “Growing consumer awareness of the health benefits of omega-3 is fueling double-digit growth for omega-3 products in the years to come. Omega-3 fatty acids have scientifically proven health benefits.”

To date Equateq has only publicly announced its involvement in one candidate pharmaceutical product – Amarin’s triglyceride lowering drug AMR101 (icosapent ethyl) – which finally received a US patent in March after a number of unexpected delays .

Comments that followed issuance of the patent also lend further support to BASF’s belief in the pharmaceutical omega-3 fatty acid market. Citi Investment Research analyst John Boris said that – if approved - drug could overtake GSK’s Lovaza and Abbott Lab’s Tricor and Trilipix and generate revenues of $1.5bn a year by 2020 .

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