‘Ideal Cures is the only company which manufactures film coating systems based on Sodium Alginate’

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Suresh Pareek, Managing Director, Ideal Cures and Chetan Rajsharad, Vice President (Tech), Ideal Cures talk to Usha Sharma about Ideal Cures’ recently acquired US patent for an aqueous film coating composition based on sodium alginate, its various applications and the advantages that it offers for the pharma and the nutra industries

Recently, Ideal Cures received a US patent for an aqueous film coating composition based on sodium alginate for pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals. How long did it take to get the patent? What were the procedures your company followed to address the US Patent Office’s requirements?
Over a period of time, Ideal Cures has focussed on becoming a science-driven company. We are regularly investing in the science of filmcoating by putting lots of efforts and investments in R&D activities. We are committed to bringing out new cost effective and environment friendly products. Grant of US Patent to one of our innovative products is a culmination of our efforts in this direction. We started working on Sodium Alginate as a polymer for film coating in 2005, in 2006 we filed a patent application in India and then a world patent application through Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT). After filing, the application is first internationally published followed by its entry into US national phase through PCT. Through two office actions, the queries of the examiners were addressed to explain the invention and cutting edge technology. Our scientists and the IPR division worked very closely to satisfy all the queries, resulting in the successful grant of this patent.

At present, how many other companies have similar patents and how competitive could it be for Ideal Cures?
Today, Ideal Cures is the only company which manufactures film coating systems based on Sodium Alginate. The competition we have is based on synthetic polymers, not with natural polymers like Sodium Alginate. It will open a new market segment for us, mainly for those customers who wish to use GRAS status products for their formulation of pharma and nutra products.

Tell us about the technology and its usages in the nutra and pharma sector?
Chetan Rajsharad:
This technology is based on the usage of natural polymer for the film coating of tablets/capsules/pellets etc. This being quite useful to the pharma industry but more useful to nutra/food industry where the key world is to use natural ingredients as much as possible. This patent is about the immediate release of the active ingredient from the core substrate which is coated with this innovative composition. The coating dissolves quickly in the stomach, releasing the active in short duration

Please share the product’s toxicology reports and its safe usage?
Chetan Rajsharad:
Sodium Alginate having the GRAS status, is absolutely safe for human consumption, all other ingredients used in this patented technology are also safe for pharma as well as nutra applications. As per the Inactive Ingredients Guide issued by US FDA it is safe to use 320 mg of sodium alginate per day in oral immediate release film coated tablets. For example taking the weight of the tablet as 1000 mg and a weight gain of three per cent of film coating, assuming 100 per cent content of sodium alginate in the film coating composition, per tablet sodium alginate through coating will be only 30 mg.

How consumer friendly is the new technology and how it will benefit the pharma companies.
The technology has been developed with an aim of “ease of usage by the customer”, hence, it is very user friendly. Lots of pharma and nutra industry in the third world countries and developing countries do not have very sophisticated coating machines and they work on conventional coating set-ups, so this product works very well even on conventional set-ups and is capable of giving high productivity. The product works at 20 per cent solid content with water as a solvent as compared to conventional HPMC based film coating system which works at 11-12 per cent solid content with water as a solvent, resulting in significant saving in cost of production as well as providing elegant and smooth finish.

Tell us how different is the US patent process from the procedure in India/ rest of the world?
I am not a expert to give a specific reply to this. Generally speaking, there are several similarities and differences in patent practices followed in India and the US. To mention a few, earlier US followed a ‘first to invent’ system while in India we have a ‘first to file’ system. US examination process is better as it has provision for filing of ‘request for continued examination (RCE)’ that provides us with additional time and extended examination in case the examiner is not satisfied with the  inventive concept, whereas no such provision is available in India. US patent process doesn’t have provisions of pre and post-grant oppositions like India, instead they have a process that allows the re-examination of granted patent by third parties in case the patentability of invention is under scrutiny.

What are the benefits that Ideal Cures will get from this patent?
Ideal Cures is the only company having this technology, which is very useful for the nutra industry. So far, very little work has been done for the use of Sodium Alginate as a film forming polymer. I am sure that Ideal Cures will be immensely benefitted by this advancement. It has given a significant boost to the company’s image and will certainly generate new business opportunities; not only in India but in Europe, US and many other markets.

Latest patent is for the pharma as well as for the nutra sector, which sector will give you more business and why?
I expect we should get more and more business opportunities in the nutra sector which is a very rapidly growing market segment in US, Europe and now India as well. The product being GRAS compliant, the registration process will not be very time consuming and its acceptance will be far easier than any other synthetic product. Further, as it is very user friendly, adoption/validation of this technology on shop-floor will also be faster.

What would be your next step for this technology in order to take it to a global level?
We will launch this product in Europe, US and India. We will also invite customers to demonstrate and discuss this product. We are continuously working on developing this technology even further and have very recently filed yet another patent application based on Sodium Alginate which will be a very significant advancement of this science.

How many are more patents have you applied for so far, in which countries and by when you are expecting to get the patents?
At present, Ideal Cures has couple of patent applications under examination in the US and couple of applications are pending in EP. We expect these patents in next one or two years. We also would like to mention here that Ideal Cures has recently filed three new PCT applications related to moisture barrier film coating, immediate release coating and delayed release coating. One of the new patents we have filed is a very novel technology which will help in programming the release of active ingredient from the core substrate. Ideal Cures is dedicated to provide cutting edge solutions for film coating in the pharma and nutra industry.

With ten patents in your portfolio, how will they help in increasing the company’s earnings year on year?
It gives us a great sense of satisfaction that we have been able to make some contribution to the science for which the whole Team Ideal Cures is working very hard. More than the number of patents, it is the spirit of service and commitment to our customers which is helping us in achieving newer milestones / targets every year.

Tell us company’s plans for 2012-13.
With the new R&D set up now fully operational, Team Ideal Cures is looking for much higher targets to achieve. During the year 2012-2013, we have drawn up plans to put efforts and investment in development of products for extended release, delayed release and taste masking.

u.sharma@expressindia.com

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