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MediNiche seeks role in over-the-counter nutraceuticals
By Patrick Thimangu, St. Louis Business Journal, (April 23, 2004)

Samuel Alioto wants to make MediNiche Inc. a major player in the over-the-counter nutraceuticals industry.

To do that Alioto is seeking additional capital of $3 million to enlarge MediNiche's sales force and improve its marketing efforts through physician networks across the nation.

Alioto, MediNiche's chief executive, said the St. Louis-based company's first phase of expansion will be to employ eight sales representatives, followed by 12 in the second phase and 10 more salespeople in the third phase.

"With the additional capital, we can grow to about $25 (million) to $27 million in sales by 2007," Alioto said.

MediNiche, founded in 1995 by Alioto; his wife, Kathryn; and 11 other investors, develops and markets over-the-counter health-care products, including nonprescription drugs, nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals. Nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals contain functional ingredients that provide medical, health or appearance benefits. Its products include Dentaplex, a nutritional supplement designed to help promote healthy teeth and gums; Lasine lubricating eye drops; and Ortho•Tabs, a vitamin-mineral supplement.

Alioto and his partners had initially raised about $700,000 and secured more than $550,000 in prepaid orders to create MediNiche. Alioto and his wife have a 54 percent stake in the company, and the other major shareholder in the concern is Dr. James Gordon, an ophthalmologist and former St. Louis resident who now lives in Virginia.

Prior to founding MediNiche, Alioto worked for 20 years in the pharmaceutical, consumer health-care products and medical devices industry. He was an executive at several divisions of Parsippany, N.J.-based American Cyanamid Co. including Lederle Pharmaceuticals, Lederle Consumer Health, Lederle International and Storz Ophthalmics.

Local Pharmaceutical Companies Team Up
St. Louis Business Journal, (July 25, 2002)

Two local pharmaceutical companies are joining forces to develop new pharmaceutical products for women’s healthcare. 

Pharmelle will have rights to further develop and commercialize products initially developed by MediNiche. 

MediNiche will receive both domestic and international royalties in addition to milestone payments linked to product performance, the companies said. In addition, MediNiche will consult with Pharmelle on the manufacturing, promoting, distributing, marketing and selling of all products developed. 

Creve Coeur, Mo.-based MediNiche develops, markets and distributes dermatologic, orthopedic and ophthalmic products, including OcuDerma ocular skin therapy gel and Ortho.Tabs nutritional supplement. 

Florissant, Mo.-based Pharmelle develops pharmaceuticals for women’s healthcare, including Natelle prenatal vitamin supplement and Urelle for urinary tract infections.

MediNiche sells skin product to Florida firm
By LARRY HOLYOKE, St. Louis Business Journal, (December 14-20, 1998)

MediNiche Inc., a Chesterfield- based pharmaceutical firm, has sold the manufacturing and marketing rights for it latest product to Coral Gables, Fla.-based Stiefel Laboratories. Under the deal, signed in November, Stiefel gets the exclusive right to make and market the product, a skin treatment developed by MediNiche. Stiefel will make an up-front cash payment and pay royalties. Terms were not disclosed.

MediNiche’s chief executive and founder, Samuel Alioto, said his goal was to take the company to $10 million in annual sales by 2002 by adding to the company’s three products. MediNiche, with four full-time employees, develops its own products, but uses outside contractors for manufacturing, financial oversight and some other functions. Alioto plans to bring more functions, including manufacturing, in-house.

The deal with Stiefel gives Stiefel full control of the product, sacrificing the opportunity for MediNiche to build its reputation, but giving MediNiche a cash infusion, Alioto said. Alioto founded MediNiche in 1994 with two ophthalmologists, Florissant based Dr. James Gordon and California-based Dr. Lee Nordan.

The company since has brought in 11 more investors, including Elizabeth Reynolds, owner of Chesterfield-based Leather Interiors; Dr. Howard Short, an ophthalmologist in Frontenac; Robert Byrne, owner of Clayton-based Erker Catering; and Dr. Slava Platonov, an anesthesiologist and owner of Zhivago Restaurant in Ballwin.

Alioto oversaw marketing of the Centrum vitamin line, a $200 million-a-year product of the former Lederle Laboratories. Lederle now is owned by New Jersey-based American Home Products Corp.

In 1996, MediNiche launched its first product, a moisturizing gel for skin around the eye. After initially marketing to ophthalmologists, MediNiche added such distributors as Texas-based Sally Beauty Co., which carries the eye gel at its 2,000 U.S. outlets.

That, Alioto said, will be MediNiche’s approach for all its products: market to medical professionals first, then to retailers.

Beth Hamilton, manager of marketing and communications at D&K Healthcare Resources Inc., which distributes both prescription and over-the- counter drugs, said MediNiche’s marketing approach was sound. By promoting first to professionals, the company gains credibility, which helps it stand out, she said. “The market is so saturated right now, you look for a product that has something unique about it. You need to have a niche,” Hamilton said. 

Ernie McCraw, beauty director for Denton, Texas-based Sally Beauty, which sells high-end beauty products, said the eye gel has sold well at $7.99 a package.

“What’s unique about it is that it was created for eye doctors,” he said. “It’s impressive how well it sells even though it’s such a niche item.” 

MediNiche’s second product is a calcium-rich dietary supplement which it is marketing to orthopedic surgeons.

Team Effort Launches OCUVITE®
First Vitamin for Eyecare Patients
Lederle Update (June 1990)

Teamwork and cooperation between the Storz Ophthalmics Marketing Group and Pearl River Development and Manufacturing resulted in the recent successful launch of OCUVITE®, the first major vitamin and mineral supplement formulated specifically for eye-care patients. 

Storz, a subsidiary of Cyanamid, is a U.S. leader in the development and manufacture of ophthalmic instruments, equipment and intraocular lenses. Since its acquisition in 1986, the company has also been developing an ophthalmic pharmaceutical business, assuming marketing responsibility for such Pearl River manufactured products as DIAMOX® acetazolamide and NEPTAZANE® methazolamide, both used to treat glaucoma. 

OCUVITE, the first over-the-counter product to be added to this new line, was an idea conceived by Storz Marketing Director Sam Alioto. Sam took his idea to Dr. Leon Ellenbogen, Chief of Nutrition Science for Medical Development, for advice on formulation and the feasibility of such a product. From there, Pharmaceutical Formulator Joe Alia of Marketed Product Research developed the OCUVITE formula for large-scale production, including the design of the unique eye-shaped tablet. Coordination of the development project was handled by Joe’s Group Leader Wendy Preston. The combined efforts of Materials Management, Quality Control, Graphic Arts, and the Filling and Packaging and Pharmaceutical Sections provided the support to prepare OCUVITE for its April 1 launch date. 

OCUVITE supplements the dietary intake of zinc and the antioxidants beta-carotene, selenium, vitamin C and vitamin E. It contains more elemental zinc than any other leading multivitamin/multimineral! product. Studies have shown that all these vitamins and minerals are essential elements in keeping the eye, particularly the aging eye, healthy. “The eye has special nutritional demands, and a diet poor in nutrients such as zinc and antioxidants can render the eye susceptible to damage,” said Dr. David Newsome, Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at Tulane University School of Medicine. 

OCUVITE tablets are film coated, small and easy to swallow and come in bottles of 60. To date, OCUVITE is at 200 percent of forecasted sales. “This project required a lot of cooperation to both launch it and to keep up the tremendous demand since it reached market,” said Manager and Master Scheduler Bill Novotny. “It was accomplished through a real team effort between Pearl River and Storz employees.


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