SINGAPORE (Dec 15):  Catalist-listed iX Biopharma has launched a line of nutraceuticals – dietary supplements and fortified food products – that could help it turn a profit sooner than it could have done through the development of its pain management, erectile dysfunction and opioid treatment drugs.

The products could also improve market sentiment toward its stock price, which hit an all-time low of 18.4 cents two months ago and is more than 50% off its IPO price two years ago.

The company’s key product, Wafermine, or ketamine in a sublingual wafer formulation, has the potential to be a star, in the face of a major backlash against opioids, particularly in the US.

Still, as is to be expected in drug development, progress has been laborious. And, market sentiment towards the company’s stock has been correspondingly poor.

Yet, chairman and CEO Eddy Lee is upbeat. “To be fair to the company, the milestones we’ve achieved in drug development have always been positive,” he tells The Edge Singapore. “Shareholders may have felt it has been taking forever, but we never said it would be short.”

Now, he is anticipating that the nutraceuticals, which have been much quicker to develop and produce, and have had to go through much fewer regulatory processes than pharmaceuticals, could help generate a profit by FY2019.

“Hopefully, this nutraceuticals business will drive earnings growth sooner than later and appease [shareholders],” says Lee.

How will the new entity drive growth at iX Biopharma, which has yet to turn an annual profit? Is this an opportunity for investors now?

Read more in issue 810 of The Edge Singapore (week of Dec 18), which is available at newsstands now.

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