Company’s supplements and vitamins support cystic fibrosis community
Huntsville, Ala. — “Just yesterday, I had a call from a CF mom,” said Mike Walters, one of three principals of start-up MVW Nutritionals, LLC. “Her son wouldn’t take his vitamin because the manufacturer had changed the flavor. Getting him to take the new vitamin had become a battle.” The frustrated mother contacted a cystic fibrosis care center and was referred to MVW. “Today, a bottle of vitamins is going out the door,” Walters said. He sent a free, one-month supply. “I asked only that she pay the shipping and also asked her to contact me again if her son didn’t like it because there are several other products.”
For Walters, the encounter summarized the culture at MVW. “We care. It’s why we’ve taken this on.”
Vitamins and supplements are very important to the CF community. The disease impedes absorption of protein, fat and calories in an individual’s diet. Those who have CF and other gastrointestinal disorders such as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency cannot adequately absorb vitamins from the foods they consume. Consequently, these individuals benefit from specially formulated supplements.
It’s a market that Walters knows well. In 2001 he founded Source CF, a company addressing needs of CF patients. Source CF was acquired by a global pharmaceuticals company in 2007 and Walters delved into other projects.
However, in 2012, a leading CF dietician approached him. The dietician explained the difficulties faced by patients and families trying to acquire CF-specific vitamins. Repeated contact resulted in a request for help. “The long-time involvement with CF prompted her call,” said Walters, “and the decision to step in was because we still care.”
Throughout the first part of 2013, Walters worked with the FDA and manufacturers to ensure products would meet quality standards for safety and efficacy. The company leadership, to include Melanie Vandiver, operations, and Suzanne Michel, registered dietician, established space at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. The company introduced softgels in July; chewables were introduced in October and pediatric drops are anticipated to be available in early 2014. Additional supplements are being investigated.
According to Walters, demand has far exceeded expectations and vitamin supplements for two additional market segments are under development. “Both segments are small,” said Walters, “and both have a need.”
The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Alabama, is the cornerstone of the Cummings Research Park Biotechnology Campus. The campus hosts a synergistic cluster of life sciences talent – science, education and business professionals – that promises collaborative innovation to turn knowledge and ideas into commercial products and services for improving human health and strengthening Alabama’s progressively diverse economy. The non-profit institute is housed in a state-of-the-art, 270,000 square-ft. facility strategically located in the nation’s second largest research park. HudsonAlpha has a three-fold mission of genomic research, economic development and educational outreach.