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Thursday, 08 September 2016 12:38

A more proactive life through probiotics

Written by  SCCJ

A more proactive life through probiotics

BioGaia is a Swedish health care company that specializes in the developing, marketing, and selling of probiotic products. Their products contain different strains of L. reuteri, a natural bacteria that have positive health effects in people of all ages. Established in Stockholm in 1990 by Peter Rothschild and Jan Annwall, the company currently has 105 employees working in its 67 offices located worldwide. Today, its products are available in more than 90 countries. BioGaia was publicly listed on the OMX Nordic Exchange in Stockholm in 1998. In 2015, it recorded a net sales of circa 483 million SEK (5.85 billion yen) and an operating profit of circa 152 million SEK (1.84 billion yen) respectively. SCCJ spoke with President & COO Mr. Keitaro Nomura, and Key Account Manager Mr. Sebastian Nummelin, to learn more about the company’s business and its relationship with Sweden.


Probiotics can improve gut floral

According to Mr. Nomura, BioGaia firmly established itself as a leading company in bacteria therapy, after an article published in a well-known US academic journal called Pediatrics. The article explained the importance of the L. reuteri bacteria and its positive health effect on infantile colic (excessive crying) that affects more than every fourth baby. Traditionally, babies received L. reuteri from their mothers through breastfeeding. But, today’s infants are less likely to come in contact with this important bacteria. This can lead to deficiencies in a baby's gut floral development.

“The gut floral of a baby is developed by the age of 2. After that the flora is more or less stable throughout life. Our probiotic products, which all contain some strain of L. reuteri, assist the proper development of gut floral. Not only will this reduce a baby’s nighttime crying; it could also lead to better health for the baby, later in life” explains Mr. Nomura.

However, despite it being established exactly 10 years ago, BioGaia was unable to expand its pediatrics-related business in Japan until around 2 or 3 years ago.

Japan business is different because of how baby colic is viewed here

“One of the reasons why an infant cries at night is baby colic, a type of digestive disorder. Globally, this is a well-known fact. But, in Japan, pediatricians do not recognize the existence of baby colic. According to them, they have 'never' diagnosed a baby with this problem. Instead, pediatricians in Japan blame the baby’s crying on its excessive attention seeking behavior and overdependence” exhorts Mr. Nomura.

That is why, rather than trying to convince the pediatricians, BioGaia shifted gears and began “enlightening” pregnant women, young mothers, and midwifes instead, carefully explaining the true reason behind a baby’s nighttime crying. But, spreading the word to a wide sector of the Japanese populace requires time, patience and flexibility.

“Therefore, unlike in Sweden, where pediatrics/pediatricians are our main business, here in Japan, our business primarily focuses on dentistry/dentists. Our main product is called ‘ProDentis’. This is a probiotic lozenges supplement product that improves oral floral. We distribute this and other supplement products to dental clinics and hospitals. Our approach is mainly B-to-B, rather than B-to-C” explains Mr. Nomura.


All products are “clinically proven”

When asked about BioGaia’s greatest competitive strength, Mr. Nomura cites “quality”, first and foremost. According to both Mr. Nomura and Mr. Nummelin, what differentiates BioGaia from other probiotic companies is its 100% “clinically proven” products (152 completed clinical trials on 12,754 individuals). The results of these clinical trials are published in 133 scientific articles and 9 doctoral thesis. Moreover, L. reuteri is one of only three probiotics recommended by the European Society of Nutrition and Pediatrics.

Less antibiotics, more probiotics

Both Mr. Nomura and Mr. Nummelin stress the importance of balancing antibiotics with probiotics.

“In Japan, more than 75% of pregnant women suffer from periodontal disease. For these women, treatment through antibiotics is considered risky, as it can potentially damage the health of their baby. Despite this fact, in Japan, some medical professionals still prescribe antibiotics to pregnant women. Going forward, we would like more of these women to receive treatment through our probiotic products” states Mr. Nomura.

"In Sweden doctors only prescribe antibiotics if the patient has a bacterial infection, as antibiotics does not have any effect on infections caused by a virus. The overuse of antibiotics is an increasing problem in many countries around the world and has led to the fact that many bacteria today are resistant to one or several different types of antibiotics. In Sweden they have managed to keep antibiotic resistance to a minimum, thanks to the restrictive use.

Antibiotics kill both bad and good bacteria, which disrupts the balance of the microflora. In many countries in Europe doctors therefore recommend patients to take probiotics while they are on antibiotics, to keep the balance of the microflora and to reduce the risk of side-effects of the antibiotics" explains Mr Nummelin.

At present, clinically proven probiotic products are few and far between in Japan. Hence, BioGaia is a one-of-a-kind company with tremendous potential for growth.

We would like to extend a warm welcome to BioGaia as a new member of the SCCJ. You can find out more about BioGaia at: http://www.biogaia.jp/




バイオガイア社はプロバイオティクス乳酸菌を主体とした製品を手掛けるスウェーデンのバイオテクノロジー企業だ。同社の製品には異なるラクトバチルス・ロイテリ菌株が含まれており、あらゆる世代の人々の健康維持に寄与する。ピーター・ロスチャイルドとジャン・アンウォールが1990年に設立し、今では世界6拠点で105名の従業員を抱え、90を超える国・地域で製品を販売している。1998年にはストックホルム株式市場(OMX Nordic Exchange)に上場。2015年の売り上げは4億8300万SEK(約58億5000万円)で、営業利益は1億5200万SEK(約18億4000万円)となった。代表取締役社長兼最高執行責任者の野村慶太郎氏とSebastian Nummelin氏に同社のビジネスやスウェーデンとの関係性について話をうかがった。












バイオガイアの最大の強みとして野村氏は「何よりも質」だという。野村氏もNummelin氏も共に、バイオガイアの製品はすべて臨床試験(計12,754人を対象とした152件の臨床試験)によって証明されている点で他社と大きく差別化を図っているという。これらの結果は133の学術記事や9件の医学的論文にて発表されている。さらに、ラクトバチルス・ロイテリ菌はEuropean Society of Nutrition and Pediatricsが推奨する3つのプロバイオティクスうちの1つだ。








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