Origin BioMed Inc.
Life is much less painful for many people thanks to Mother Nature – and Origin BioMed Inc., a home-grown manufacturer of all-natural health products.
The Halifax-based company, which was founded in 2001, produces Neuragen, a unique, natural product that spells relief for many people suffering from nerve pain caused by diabetes, shingles, fibromyalgia, post-surgical pain and other conditions.
The products are all natural, but it is science that shows they are effective. “The botanical oils used in Neuragen have been a common ingredient in foods and cosmetics for decades. But we didn’t take their therapeutic benefits at face value,” says Robert Silverstein, the company’s Vice-president Operations.
“Extensive clinical testing has been undertaken to confirm the effectiveness of Neuragen, the first non-prescription topical treatment for rapid relief of nerve pain caused by diabetes and shingles,” he adds. “Clinical trials show Neuragen to be up to 80 per cent effective in reducing this type of pain.”
That relief is long overdue. “We operate in a health care sector that has been under-served. Patients were desperate for relief,” says Silverstein.
Company founder, and now president and CEO, Robert Cervelli, believed there was a natural way to provide that pain relief. He took his 25 years of experience in the biotechnology industry and created the innovative Neuragen product line, which today includes Neuragen RL, a concentrated liquid that requires only a few drops to begin reducing pain within minutes, and NeuraGEL, a convenient no-drip gel that provides relief in as little as 10 minutes.
“We are giving people a safe and effective alternative to managing their pain – pain that can be continuous and severe. They get a good night’s sleep, often for the first time in years,” says Silverstein.
The Neuragen line also stands apart from other natural health products in other important ways. “Many natural health products on the market today lack high-quality ingredients; sufficient quantity of the ingredients to provide a health benefit; and documented evidence of their effectiveness. We offer our customers all three,” notes Silverstein.
It’s not only the line that stands out. The company does, as well. In 2008, Origin BioMed was honoured as the most innovative and promising technology company in Canada in its category at the second annual Red Herring Top 50 Canada Awards. The Red Herring selection team used an intensely competitive process to select the most innovative companies. The nominees were rigorously evaluated on both quantitative and qualitative criteria such as financial performance, technology innovation, and quality of management.
2008 was a noteworthy year in at least one other respect: Origin BioMed entered the U.S. market. “Until recently, over-the-counter treatment options for nerve pain were limited,” says Cervelli. “Now that Neuragen is available in the United States, nerve pain sufferers will be able to significantly improve their quality of life.”
The U.S. is a major market for Neuragen, which is sold in pharmacies including CVS and Jean Couteau. Approximately 23 million children and adults – as much as eight per cent of the population – have diabetes and nerve pain, which occurs when high blood sugar levels damage nerves producing symptoms in as many as 70 per cent of diabetics.
“Our products are in close to 85 per cent of drug stores in Canada, and we will be in 26,000 stores in the U.S. this year. We have a vital niche in the diabetic nerve pain sector,” says Silverstein.
“Our market is a growing market. We’ve only just touched the surface,” he adds. “The number of people diagnosed with diabetes is growing at eight to 10 per cent a year, and an estimated six million people in North America are unaware that they even have the disease.”
While Neuragen and the company’s newer lines, including cold sore medication and green tea therapeutics, have an international reach, home base is right here in Nova Scotia, and that will not change. Indeed, being a Nova Scotia company is central to the firm’s success.
“This is a good place to work,” says Silverstein. “Employees are dedicated, motivated and energetic, and the cost of doing business is lower.”
Conducting business is also enhanced by the company’s Nova Scotia location, he adds. “This is a beautiful environment. There’s always stress, but it’s handled much better here. It feels natural here.”
That natural feeling is something Origin BioMed works hard to cultivate among its employees. “This is a hard-work company, but we know there needs to be fun doing that work,” says Silverstein.
“We party hard, too,” he adds. “We have our own karaoke machine.”
In keeping with the company’s healthy attitude, Origin BioMed last year signed an agreement with an exercise and fitness chain to provide a discount to their employees. “In our field, we understand how important it is to exercise and eat well,” says Silverstein.
That understanding comes naturally – and is reflected in every one of the company’s products.