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Strategic product development for a personalized, practitioner-driven approach to cardiovascular, metabolic, and cognitive health

Developing innovative dietary supplement products for nutrition-trained or functional medicine practitioners who engage in a personalized approach to patient management presents interesting challenges and opportunities.

How do you develop, manufacture (under strict GMP compliant conditions), and properly study dietary supplements aimed at a population of n=1?
 
A central part of our approach at Atrium Innovations is to view these not just as products, but as the clinical tools used by health care practitioners to improve the health of their patients.  In other words, it is the application of these well-designed clinical tools that allows the practitioner to manage the patient as an individual, as opposed to a diagnosis.

The functional or P4 practitioner utilizes comprehensive laboratory testing and other intake data to design a treatment protocol around the patient’s individual needs, influenced by genetic, biochemical, environmental, lifestyle, social, or other factors.  A personalized approach to patient management, then, demands a full tool box. 
Three key strategies are required to provide effective tools. 

The first strategy is careful attention to nutrient forms, doses, and finished product formats.  For example, we focus on bioactive ingredient forms, such as methylated vitamins, a quality feature that separates many health care professional products from the mass market offerings.  Such ingredients tend to be more expensive, but are preferred by the practitioner. 

Metafolin, a 5-methyl folate as an alternative to folic acid, is one example of a vitamin form preferred by many practitioners who embrace a personalized approach to patient management.  This form of folate circumvents well-established genetic polymophisms that may interfere with the utility of standard folic acid.  Identifying such polymorphisms and providing targeted supplementation is a very clear example of personalized nutrition. 

Innovations in alternative product formats, including liquids, sprays, powders, or matrices that improve ingredient stability or bioavailability, are also important differentiators in meeting the needs of the health care practitioner and his or her individual patients.

Practitioner-driven formulations
A second strategy we employ to ensure the development of clinically relevant and effective products is the use of practitioner-driven formulations.  We work with a large body of medical advisors with backgrounds in family medicine, naturopathy, bariatrics, functional medicine, optometry, psychiatry, anti-aging medicine, dietetics, neurology, and pharmacology.  These practitioners bring a wide spectrum of expertise in product areas such as probiotics, botanicals, vitamins and minerals, and proteins, as well as condition-specific approaches to hormonal support, cardiometabolic health, sports nutrition, and more. 

Contributions by qualified medical advisors make a significant impact on the development of a strategic product development pipeline.  In essence, working closely with practitioners allows us to bring clinical experience from the bed side to the white board to the bench and, ultimately, to the bottle.

Finally, innovative product development must be grounded in rigorous science.  Clinical studies, while somewhat reductionist on their surface (ie, capturing statistical significance across a population and then applying the result to an individual), provide incremental insights that eventually generate an idea swell that drives innovation.  The tools we develop from such advancements can then be applied to a personalized approach to patient management.

Research
One example of this approach to nutritional research is our Applied Clinical Research Program on Cardiometabolic Health.  The metabolic syndrome, characterized as obesity and associated chronic risk factors, such as dyslipidemia, hypertension, and impaired fasting glucose, confers an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, cardiac events, type 2 diabetes, and cognitive decline, as well as related mortality.  These risk factors are well established to be modifiable by nutrition and lifestyle interventions, making the metabolic syndrome an attractive target for researching the potential health benefits of natural bioactives.

In order to develop nutritional strategies to prevent or manage the symptoms of metabolic syndrome, we launched a comprehensive research program in collaboration with one of our academic partners, the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods at Laval University in Quebec, Canada.  The overarching objective of our program is to better understand and manage common factors linking cardiovascular, metabolic, and cognitive health, including low-level, or silent,  inflammation, oxidative stress, endothelial dysfunction, and insulin resistance.

Polyphenols
Central to our efforts is a robust ongoing investigation into the cardiometabolic health benefits of polyphenols.  Polyphenols are present in most foods of plant origin, including fruits (especially berries), vegetables, cocoa, coffee, tea, wine, and spices.  The health benefits of these foods are attributed, in large part, to their providing a diverse spectrum of polyphenol compounds, including flavonoids (anthocyanins, catechins, flavonols, flavanones, and isoflavones), curcuminoids, stilbenes, and tannins such as proanthocyanidins.  Understanding the health benefits of specific polyphenol compounds is an emerging area of intense research, including our own. 

In 2013, we published study examining the effects of type A proanthocyanidins from cranberries on promoting endothelial function in healthy athletes.  Consumption of a cranberry-rich polyphenol blend increased flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of the  brachial artery, a measure of endothelial response, by 2.8% [1].  In a systematic review and meta-analysis by Ras and colleagues of 23 studies and over 14,000 subjects, the pooled overall risk of a cardiovascular event was reduced by 8% for every 1% increase in FMD [2].  

A recently concluded clinical trial in overweight subjects with insulin resistance (pre-diabetic) has demonstrated a remarkable protective effect of strawberry and cranberry extracts in promoting insulin sensitivity compared to placebo control and preventing a hyperinsulinemic response immediately following a glucose load.  Such results are very promising indications of a role for dietary or supplemental polyphenols in attenuating the progression from early stage insulin resistance to type 2 diabetes.  

Furthermore, among foods rich in polyphenols, blueberries have been identified for their particular benefits in slowing age-associated memory and motor decline through potential mechanisms of reducing oxidative stress, inflammation, and/or altering neuronal signaling.  Our preclinical results support such a role for blueberry and grape extracts in improving memory and learning functions in aged animals, and a 200-subject, 6-month clinical investigation is underway.

Taken together, these results support both the general and specific health benefits of polyphenols in mitigating the pathophysiology of the metabolic syndrome and associated conditions.  These findings suggest an role for targeted polyphenol-based nutritional interventions in meeting condition-specific, personalized health objectives.

So, essentially our role is to develop science-based, safe and effective dietary supplements that health care practitioners can use as tools in personalized patient management.  We achieve this, in part, through careful formulation with the best ingredients at effective doses, the use of multiple product formats, consultation with experts in clinical practice, and rigorous science.  This is our small—but important—contribution to this exciting movement that is rapidly bringing back a patient-centered approach to evidence-based medicine.

By Barry W. Ritz, PhD, VP Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Atrium Innovations Inc
PLMI 2014 Conference 2014 

 

References

[1] Labonte K, et al. Acute effects of polyphenols from cranberries and grape seeds on endothelial function and performance in elite athletes. Sports. 2013;1:55-68.

[2] Ras RT, et al. Flow-mediated dilation and cardiovascular risk prediction: A systematic review with meta-analysis. Intl J Cardiol.
 

BÉNÉFIQ’s 2014 Diamond Sponsor

Montreal (Quebec), June 26, 2014 Atrium Innovations Inc. (the “Company”), a globally recognized leader in the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of innovative, science-based, natural health products, is proud to announce its diamond sponsorship of BÉNÉFIQ 2014, an international rendezvous in Quebec City, Canada dedicated to health ingredients.

“Atrium is proud to sponsor BENEFIQ for the strong research and educational component, business networking opportunities and exposure it offers to this growing industry of health ingredients and products,” said Barry W. Ritz, PhD, Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs at Atrium Innovations. “Quebec City-based Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods (INAF), who initiated BENEFIQ, has been Atrium’s strategic academic research partner for the last 3 years in finding nutritional strategies to help address metabolic syndrome.”

In 2011, Atrium Innovations launched its Applied Clinical Research Program and established its commitment to comprehensive cardio-metabolic research with specific studies in collaboration with INAF on the health benefits of small fruit polyphenols, fish oil and Atrium’s systemic enzyme formula Wobenzym®. Some of the research results from this effort will be presented for the first time at BENEFIQ.

“We are thrilled to have leaders like Atrium Innovations join, sponsor, and participate in this one-of-a-kind, world-class scientific and business event dedicated to the transfer of research results, innovation and the promotion of health ingredients and functional foods. As an industry leading event, BENEFIQ attracts scientists, key speakers, business people and companies from here and abroad,” said Renée Michaud, Executive and Business Development Manager at INAF and Co-chair of BENEFIQ’s Organizing Committee.

Peter Luther named President and Chief Executive Officer

Picture1MONTREAL, June 5, 2014 – Atrium Innovations Inc. (“Atrium” or the “Company”), a globally recognized leader in the development, manufacturing and commercialization of innovative, science-based natural health products, announced today that Peter Luther, former President of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Healthcare, has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of Atrium, effective at the end of June.  He succeeds Pierre Fitzgibbon, who, as previously announced, will leave the Company by mutual agreement with the Board of Directors. The Company also announced that Jacques Bougie, former President and CEO of Alcan Inc., W. Brian Edwards, founder and former CEO of BCE Emergis, and Mr. Luther will join Atrium’s Board of Directors.  Mr. Bougie will serve as Chairman of the Board and be based in Montreal, Québec.

Mr. Luther, 49, has 25 years of experience in the consumer packaged goods and healthcare industries. Since 1987, he has worked for Johnson & Johnson and has served as President of several of the company’s large divisions over the past 10+ years.His most recent role was President of the Consumer Healthcare business. In this role, Mr. Luther drove over $2.0 billion in annual retail sales in 2013 across 17 of the world’s most iconic brands, including Listerine®, Band-Aid® and Neosporin®.

On behalf of Atrium’s owners – the Permira Funds, Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec – John Coyle, Partner at Permira, said, “We are thrilled to have attracted an executive of Peter’s caliber to lead Atrium and capitalize on the Company’s numerous growth opportunities. His leadership skills, deep appreciation of industry regulation, keen focus on innovation, and proven track record of growing consumer brands make him a perfect fit for Atrium as the Company moves forward on its path to becoming a branded, global leader in the health products space. We look forward to working closely with Peter and the entire senior management team as they continue to grow this outstanding Company.”

Mr. Luther commented, “I’m honored to have been selected to serve as Atrium’s next CEO and am excited by the potential of this impressive Company.  I have great respect for Atrium’s commitment to innovation and quality, its growth trajectory and customer loyalty, and I am energized to work closely with the management team and talented employees as the Company embarks on the next phase of its growth.  I see tremendous opportunities to build on Atrium’s product portfolio and advance commercialization and global distribution while upholding the Company’s unwavering commitment to high quality products that improve peoples’ lives.”

Prior to his role as President of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Healthcare, Mr. Luther served as President of Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare with responsibility for such brands as Tylenol®, Motrin®, Zyrtec® and Benadryl®.  Previous roles included President of Johnson & Johnson Beauty Care with brands such as Neutrogena®, Aveeno®, Clean & Clear® and Lubriderm® and President of LifeScan, Inc., a manufacturer and marketer of glucose monitoring systems under the One Touch® brand. Mr. Luther received his Masters of Management from the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and his BA from Kenyon College.

Mr. Coyle continued, “On behalf of the Board of Directors, we would also like to welcome our new Board members. Jacques has an outstanding leadership track record along with significant operational and international experience, and we are confident that both he and Brian will provide unique insights and value to our Board in the years ahead.”

Mr. Bougie was the President and CEO of Alcan Inc., a Québec-based global aluminium producer and packaging products supplier, from 1993 to 2001.  In this role, he spearheaded the greatest expansion in the company’s history through its acquisition of AluSuisse in 2000 and laid the groundwork for the acquisition of the French group Péchiney in 2004.  Before serving as CEO, he was President and COO of Alcan from 1989 to 1993.  Over the past 25 years, Mr. Bougie has served on the boards of Royal Bank of Canada, Bell Canada, BCE Mobile Communications, Nova Chemicals, Rona, Novelis, and AbitibiBowater and currently sits on the boards of McCain Foods, CSL Group and SNC-Lavalin Group.  He currently chairs the Advisory Board of the Montréal Neurological Institute and Hospital and serves on the Board of Directors of a number of foundations.

Mr. Edwards is the founder and former CEO of BCE Emergis, one of North America’s most successful electronic commerce companies. Under his leadership from 1988 to 2002, the company grew from a small start-up to a company with revenues of over $650 million and more than 2,000 employees.  Mr. Edwards presently serves as Chairman of the Board of Atmanco Inc., a company that helps leaders and managers choose the right human resources, and is a member of the Boards of Directors of Camoplast Solideal Inc and Transat AT Inc.  Mr. Edwards is very active in the community and currently serves on the Board of the Concordia University Foundation and the Adaptive Sports Foundation.

Messrs. Luther, Bougie and Edwards join Atrium’s existing Board members: John Coyle, Henry Minello, Simon Marc and Yvon Bolduc.

Announcement of a Management Transition

MONTREAL, April 8 2014 – Atrium Innovations Inc. (“Atrium” or the “Company”), a globally recognized leader in the development, manufacturing and commercialization of innovative, science-based natural health products, announced today that Pierre Fitzgibbon, President and CEO of Atrium, will step down from the Company in 2014, by mutual agreement with the Board of Directors. Mr. Fitzgibbon will remain President and CEO while the Board conducts a search for his replacement and will continue to be one of Atrium’s largest individual shareholders after his departure.

On behalf of Atrium’s owners – the Permira Funds, Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec – John Coyle, Partner at Permira, said, “Pierre’s leadership has been critical to developing Atrium and its portfolio of leading global brands into the successful business it is today. We are grateful for his contributions and are pleased that he has agreed to remain in his position to ensure a smooth management transition over the coming months. Atrium has tremendous opportunities ahead and we are confident we will identify a world-class leader to continue the company’s accelerated growth and expansion.”

Mr. Fitzgibbon stated, “I am very proud of what our team has achieved and believe that we have established a very strong platform from which the Company can pursue growth and continue to provide outstanding products for our customers. Leading Atrium for the past seven years has been a very rewarding experience in my career and both the Board and I concluded that 2014 is the right time for the Company to find a new leader as I am eager to pursue other interests.”

The Board has retained Spencer Stuart, one of the world’s leading executive search consulting firms, to conduct the CEO search. Separately, the Board has also retained J. Robert Swidler & Associates, based in Montreal, to lead the search for a Québec resident Chairman.

Announcement of the Completion of Acquisition by the Permira Funds

MONTREAL, Feb. 13, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ – Atrium Innovations Inc. (TSX:ATB & ATB.DB) (“Atrium”   or   the   “Corporation”),   a   globally   recognized   leader   in   the   development, manufacturing and commercialization of innovative, science-based natural health products, announced today the successful completion of the previously announced plan of arrangement (the “Arrangement”) providing for the acquisition of all of the outstanding common shares of Atrium (“Atrium Shares”) by corporations backed by the Permira funds (“Permira”) and the acquisition  by  the  Corporation  of  all  of  its  outstanding  5.75%  convertible  unsecured subordinated debentures (“Atrium Debentures”).Pursuant to the Arrangement, the former holders of Atrium Shares (other than the shares rolled over by  Fonds de solidarité des travailleurs du Québec (F.T.Q.) (“Fonds”) and  Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (“CDPQ”)) will receive, for each Atrium Share held, $24.00 in cash, and the former holders of Atrium Debentures will receive, for each $1,000 principal amount of Atrium Debentures, a cash amount of approximately $1,150 (representing the aggregate of $1,000 in principal amount, accrued and unpaid interest on such principal amount to, but excluding, February 13, 2014, and the interest that would otherwise be payable thereon from and including February 13, 2014 to, but excluding, March 15, 2014, as well as the applicable “make whole premium” on the basis of a stock price of $24.00).

Permira has delivered to  Computershare Investor Services, the depositary for the Arrangement, sufficient funds to enable the depositary to make the payments described in the Arrangement. In accordance with the Arrangement, payment will be made by the depositary to the holders of the Atrium Shares and Atrium Debentures as soon as practicable following the date hereof.

It is anticipated that the Atrium Shares and the Atrium Debentures will be delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange on or about February 14, 2014.

About Atrium

Atrium Innovations Inc. (TSX: ATB & ATB.DB) is a globally-recognized leader in the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of innovative, science-based natural health products which are distributed in more than 35 countries. The Corporation owns healthcare practitioner and specialized retail product brands that are at the forefront of science, innovation and education. Atrium has over 1,300 employees and operates seven manufacturing facilities with current Good Manufacturing Practices. Additional information is available at www.atrium- innovations.com.

Cautionary Note and Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements with respect to the Corporation. These forward-looking statements, by their nature, require the Corporation to make certain assumptions and necessarily involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance. These forward- looking statements, including financial outlooks, may involve, but are not limited to, comments with respect to the Corporation’s business or financial objectives, its strategies or future actions, its targets, expectations for financial condition or outlook for operations and future contingent payments. Words such as “may”, “will”, “would”, “could”, “expect”, “believe”, “plan”, “anticipate”, “intend”, “estimate”, “continue”, or the negative or comparable terminology, as well as terms usually  used  in  the  future  and  the  conditional,  are  intended  to  identify  forward-looking statements. Information contained in forward-looking statements is based upon certain material assumptions that were applied in drawing a conclusion or making a forecast or projection, including management’s perceptions of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments, as well as other considerations that are believed to be appropriate in the circumstances. The Corporation considers these assumptions to be reasonable based on information currently available to it, but cautions the reader that these assumptions regarding future events, many of which are beyond its control, may ultimately prove to be incorrect since they are subject to risks and uncertainties that affect the Corporation and its business.

For additional information with respect to these and other factors and assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements made in this press release, see the Corporation’s quarterly and annual Management Discussion and Analysis for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2012 and the management information circular dated December 17, 2013 each filed with the Canadian securities commissions. The forward-looking information set forth herein reflects the Corporation’s expectations as at the date of this press release and is subject to change after such  date.  The  Corporation  disclaims  any  intention  or  obligation  to  update  or  revise  any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, other than as required by law.

Atrium Innovations Inc. Receives Investment Canada Act Approval for the Arrangement with the Permira Funds

MONTREAL, Feb. 10, 2014 /CNW Telbec/Atrium Innovations Inc. (TSX:ATB & ATB.DB) (“Atrium” or the “Corporation”), a globally recognized leader in the development, manufacturing and commercialization of innovative, science-based natural health products, is pleased to announce that pursuant to the terms of the Investment Canada Act, the Minister of Industry (the “Minister”) has approved the previously announced plan of arrangement (the “Arrangement”) providing for the acquisition of all of the outstanding common shares of Atrium by corporations backed by the Permira funds and the acquisition by the Corporation of all of its outstanding convertible debentures. The Minister reviewed the Arrangement pursuant to the Investment Canada Act, and determined that it is of net benefit to Canada. In addition, the Corporation has received clearance from the Ukrainian competition authorities with respect to the Arrangement.

Completion of the Arrangement remains subject to the satisfaction or waiver of certain other closing conditions customary in transactions of this nature. Subject to their satisfaction or waiver, it is anticipated that the Arrangement will be completed on February13, 2014.

Atrium Innovations’ Securityholders Approve Arrangement with the Permira Funds

MONTREAL, Jan. 21, 2014 /CNW Telbec/  Atrium Innovations Inc. (TSX:ATB & ATB.DB) (“Atrium”   or   the   “Corporation”),   a   globally   recognized   leader   in   the   development, manufacturing and commercialization of innovative, science-based natural health products, announced today that its shareholders and convertible debentureholders (together the “Securityholders”) have approved the resolution authorizing the previously announced plan of arrangement (the “Arrangement”) providing for the acquisition of all the outstanding Atrium shares for cash consideration of $24.00 per common share by corporations backed by the Permira funds and the acquisition by the Corporation of all of its outstanding convertible debentures. Pursuant to the Arrangement, Atrium’s senior management will be rolling over up to approximately $8 million of equity investment in the Corporation.

The Arrangement resolution required the approval of 66 2/3% of the votes cast by shareholders of Atrium and of a simple majority of the votes cast by shareholders of Atrium other than Fonds de solidarité des travailleurs du Québec (F.T.Q.), Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and senior management (collectively, the “Interested Shareholders”), in each case present in person or represented by proxy at the special meeting of Securityholders (the “Special Meeting”).

The  approval  of  the  Atrium  convertible  debentureholders  was  also  sought  at  the  Special Meeting to allow the convertible debentureholders to participate in the Arrangement. The participation in the Arrangement of the Atrium convertible debentureholders required the affirmative vote of 66 2/3% of the principal amount of convertible debentures held by the convertible debentureholders present in person or represented by proxy at the Special Meeting.

The Arrangement resolution was approved by 98.9% of the votes cast by shareholders of Atrium present or represented by proxy at the Special Meeting (including 98.4% of the votes cast by shareholders of Atrium other than the Interested Shareholders) and by 99.9% of the votes cast by convertible debentureholders of Atrium present or represented by proxy at the Special Meeting.

The Arrangement is also subject to approval by the Superior Court of Québec (Commercial Division) at a final hearing which has been scheduled to be held on January 27, 2014, at the Montréal Courthouse, in Montréal, Québec at 9:00 a.m. (Montréal time) or as soon thereafter as counsel may be heard. It is anticipated that the Arrangement will be completed in February 2014,  subject  to,  without  limitation,  court  approval  as  set  forth  above,  obtaining  required regulatory approvals and the satisfaction or waiver of the other conditions precedent.