OTTAWA, ONTARIO, January 30, 2013 - Avivagen Inc. (TSXV:VIV; the "Company") is pleased to provide a corporate update and review of its activities in 2012 and its corporate strategy for the calendar year 2013.
2012 was a transformative year for Avivagen as it saw the launch of Oximunol(TM) Chewables for dogs in the United States through its distributor, a leading animal health company. Oximunol(TM) is a scientifically formulated chewable tablet that contains Avivagen's proprietary, patented active ingredient OxC-beta. OxC-beta is a highly concentrated version of oxidized derivatives of carotenoids that are found naturally and extensively in the plant world in minute amounts. It is currently available for dogs of all ages. Oximunol(TM) Chewables work with a dog's immune system to enhance overall health and well-being.
The successful launch of Oximunol(TM) in the US market sets the stage for growth and expansion of the Company in 2013. In 2012, the Company officially re-named and re-branded itself as Avivagen Inc. and launched a new website (www.avivagen.com). As of May 30, 2012, the Company began trading under the stock symbol "VIV' on the TSX Venture exchange. The adoption of the name of Avivagen for the Company formally recognized the completion of the transition from a purely research and development enterprise to a commercial organization that is committed to taking full advantage of the wide opportunities of Avivagen's patented oxidized carotenoid technology in the animal and human health markets. Avivagen is focused on leveraging its proprietary products through direct and partnered sales in various vertical markets and global territories.
For 2013 Avivagen is committed to executing a three-stage strategy for commercialization of the OxC-beta technology, targeting three major global markets:
-Companion animal and pet supplements for dogs, cats, horses and ornamental fish;
-A natural feed supplement used in livestock production to increase productivity through enhanced health and safety as an alternative to the current practice of using low dose antibiotics; and
-Human health applications based upon enhancement of immune function and decreased inflammation.
Below are highlights of the accomplishments from 2012 and strategies for 2013:
Oximunol(TM) Chewable Tablets for Dogs Launched in the United States
On September 26, 2012 Avivagen announced the commercial launch of Oximunol(TM) by the Company's United States (U.S.) distribution partner, a leading animal health company. The distributor and Avivagen earlier entered into a distribution agreement whereby the distributor has exclusive rights for distribution of Oximunol(TM) chewable tablets to veterinarians in the U.S. On the launch of Oximunol(TM) Chewable Tablets for dogs in the U.S. Avivagen's CEO, David Hankinson, commented "We are very pleased that pet parents in the U.S. are now able to access Oximunol(TM) Chewable tablets to assist in optimizing the overall health and well-being of their dogs. It is also an important milestone in Avivagen's history, which is important to all of our stakeholders. In early 2012, we announced the signing of a distribution agreement for the U.S. with a well-known and reputable animal health company, which was followed closely by accreditation received from the U.S. National Animal Supplement Council. We then received our first order from our U.S. distributor, which was delivered in August, 2012 and the product has now been commercially launched in the veterinary market. We are also pleased to confirm that we have received payment on our first order and look forward to fulfilling future orders for our distributor in the growing U.S. market."
While there are no binding agreements for purchase, Avivagen is expecting multiple orders from its distributor this year.
Oximunol(TM) Distribution in International Markets
Avivagen has been developing working relationships with companies in the international marketplace over the past two years and the entrance to the U.S. market is a great first step in its international commercial efforts and brings Avivagen's investors validation of the demand for Oximunol(TM) Chewables. Avivagen is now targeting adding new distribution agreements outside the U.S. and also to bring follow-on products to market. Last year, Avivagen representatives met face-to-face with experts and key commercial representatives from both Asia and Latin America. The mission was very productive in helping develop Avivagen's plans for introducing into the Asian and Latin American markets the Company's food animal and companion animal products that are based on the Company's proprietary OxC-beta product platform. The Company's product is currently being evaluated by multiple parties and Avivagen is targeting agreements in these territories in 2013.
Evidence supporting safety of Oximunol(TM) Products for Cats
In 2012, Avivagen was pleased to report that an independent safety study of OxC-beta in cats had been successfully completed. The product was well tolerated and had no untoward effects on the health of the study cats when administered daily at 1, 4, and 10 times the intended dose for one month. This is a critical milestone in the development of future OxC-beta based products for the cat marketplace. Work is also underway to evaluate the safety and health benefits of OxC-beta for performance horses.
Development of a Product Line of Pet Supplements for Direct-to-Consumer Sales
Buoyed by the highly positive response of pet parents and their dogs to the various benefits of Oximunol(TM) Chewables, as shown by direct evaluations (e.g., improved coat and skin condition, increased mobility and energy in older dogs), Avivagen is preparing to develop a branded line of specialized pet products based on OxC-beta. These will be introduced in stages beginning during the 2013 calendar year and marketed directly to consumers through the Avivagen website, specialty pet stores and pet boutiques. Additional details will be provided as new products are launched.
OxC-beta use in livestock: Positive IP developments and a growing, receptive market
Antibiotics have been used for decades in livestock animal feeds to promote growth and more efficient feed utilization. In North America a significant proportion (approximately 70%) of all antibiotic use is in animal feeds for this purpose. There is growing concern that this widespread, non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animal feeds promotes the development of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms that, as a result, are becoming a threat to human health. In response to this situation there is increasing pressure to restrict or eliminate the use of antibiotics in animal feed. In the 2013 annual global risk report by the World Economic Forum ("Global Risks 2013") antibiotic resistant bacteria were included as one of the key environmental and health risks threatening the global community. The overuse of antibiotics is the key driver of the emergence of antibiotic resistance strains and the Global Risks 2013 report highlighted the increasingly obvious conclusion that if "we want to minimize the rate at which antibiotics become obsolete, we should use them as sparingly as possible ... More efforts, however, will be needed to slow the use of antibiotics in agriculture, aquaculture and animal husbandry." Subsequently, there is an unmet need for new, safe, and effective growth promotion agents for food producing animals that do not depend upon direct antimicrobial activity for their action. Avivagen has developed its OxC-beta technology into a robust and economical non-antibiotic alternative that may address this need. Avivagen has identified OxC-beta as a non-antibiotic alternative to promote growth and feed conversion in food animals with supporting evidence previously reported by the Company in both pigs and poultry. Because feed is a major cost factor in the production of food from animals, any improvement in the ability of the animal to convert feed into food products or enhancement in growth rate can directly improve the financial return to a food producer.
On June 5, 2012 the Company was pleased to announce that its US patent application "Compositions and methods for promoting weight gain and feed conversion" received an allowance from the U.S. Patent Office. Dr. Graham Burton, President of Avivagen, commented "This is an important milestone in Avivagen's goal to achieve extensive patent protection covering our proprietary oxidized carotenoid technology, including OxC-beta, for promoting and maintaining improved health in animals. The allowed claims are directed to foodstuffs including oxidized carotenoid, which can be used as a non-antibiotic alternative in commercial animal feeds, such as poultry, swine, cattle, horse, sheep and fish feeds." Earlier, Avivagen reported that similar claims have been granted for this patent family in several jurisdictions. Applications are still pending in other jurisdictions, including Europe, Asia and South America.
Human Market - Potential OxC-beta Applications
Proof-of-concept studies support the development of a potential immune system-supporting and inflammation-limiting supplement to improve overall health and specifically skin applications. Although Avivagen will not be conducting any R&D in the near-term for potential human products, the Company highlights that access to the very large human supplement and skincare markets remains one of our medium-term goals, towards which the Company will be able to leverage all of the market and safety data already generated in other markets.
Appointment of Chris Boland as Chief Financial Officer
On July 12, 2012 the Board of Directors of Avivagen was pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Chris Boland to the position of Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Boland is a Canadian Chartered Accountant and also holds the Certified Management Accountant designation. Prior to joining Avivagen, Chris was in public practice (Chartered Accountancy), with earlier positions including General Manager at Canada Post Corporation, CFO and VP Finance at Optiwave Corporation, Director of Tax and Treasury, Controller at Eftia OSS, Manager of Financial Reporting and Controller at the Canadian Bank Note, and Manager of Financial Reporting at Mitel Corporation. He was also an Auditor at the Office of the Auditor General and Manager at Treasury Board. Mr. Boland's expertise and depth of experience is an asset to the Company and will ensure that Avivagen operates with excellent financial controls as the Company focuses on product launches and revenue generation.
Improving Capital Markets Presence and Performance
Despite continuing volatility in equity capital markets in 2012, Avivagen managed to increase its average daily volume traded by 18% versus 2011 and also managed to translate that increased volume traded into an increase in the average daily value traded by 15% over 2011. The completed transition of the Company from a purely research and development enterprise to a commercial organization has marked a turning point in the performance of Avivagen stock with the 2013 daily volume traded up a further 19% over 2012 and the daily value traded is up nearly 20% over 2012.
In the calendar year 2012, Avivagen financed its activities through revenues from product sales, grants, loans and a total of approximately $1.25 million in equity private placements, including the first investment in the Company from a Toronto-based institutional investor. In 2013, Avivagen will be focused on continuing to tell its corporate story to a broad investment audience, through press releases, marketing roadshows, attending investor conferences, and participating in industry and scientific conferences.
Online Direct Sales Channel and Social Media Engagement
As part of Avivagen's corporate strategy in 2012, a new corporate website (www.avivagen.com) was created as the primary online access point for Avivagen. The development of the site was partially funded by up to $30,000 in non-repayable funding from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). The new website showcases the benefits of Avivagen's products, which target three large and growing markets: food safety and efficiency, companion animal health, and human health. The website aims to transparently provide information that is easy to access for investors, customers, veterinarians, partner companies, and consumers alike. This is the first step in making the website a resource for the community to engage in discussions about health and optimizing health - for both animals and humans. The website will be further developed to provide an online shopping cart for customers to buy OxC-beta pet supplement products directly from the Company.
The Company will continue to build out its successful social media strategy in 2013, engaging the market and building awareness through word-of-mouth marketing via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social media presence developed by the Company.
Visit us on Twitter and Facebook:
Avivagen Community Involvement and Outreach
As a wellness company, Avivagen seeks to improve the lives of animals, the people who care for them, and our community as a whole. To that end, the Company seeks to actively contribute to worthwhile causes and participate in community events. Notably in 2012, the company, in partnership with the Ontario Dockdogs, held events at several local Ontario festivals that helped raise money for the Autism Service Dogs of Canada. The Company recently donated over 100 bottles of its Oximunol(TM) Chewables, a canine supplement that helps maintain healthy joint function and supports immune health, to support the 5th Annual Tomi Trial, a 3-day canine agility event that raised money for the Ontario Veterinary College ("OVC") cancer research and treatment centre.
The company is also actively engaged in promoting scientific literacy in our communities. In this vein, Avivagen's Dr. Jamie Nickerson and one of his associates very successfully undertook an outreach program in partnership with the Prince Edward Island BioAlliance to bring enhanced science education to classrooms in rural schools. Through this program, students who would otherwise have little exposure to scientific research were able to participate in state-of-the art scientific experiments. This well received program was formally recognized by the PEI Government, and received extensive local news coverage. Avivagen looks forward to continued participation in the program and similar initiatives in 2013 and beyond.
Industry Events and Conferences
Avivagen attended several conferences in 2012, marketing the company and its product, Oximunol(TM) Chewables.
Avivagen attended the following conferences and events:
-Kansas City Animal Health Investment Forum
-Atlantic Biopartnering Trade Mission
-Winter Woofstock Conference
-Avivagen was also profiled in a feature on Business Television (BTV; http://www.b-tv.com) in a segment that aired on the Business News Network (BNN) in Canada and Fox Business News in the United States. The feature can be viewed at: http://www.b-tv.com/i/videos/AvivagenNov12.wmv
-Bloom Burton & Co Healthcare Investor Conference
In 2013, Avivagen will continue to attend conferences to build out sales channels and increase brand awareness. "Many of these venues provided Avivagen a great opportunity to personally meet with hundreds of pet owners and their dogs, while providing information about the Company and its product offerings", said Graham Burton, President & Co-Founder of Avivagen. Also, as part of a major initiative to develop a widespread understanding and appreciation of the scientific underpinnings of the OxC-beta technology, Avivagen will be ready to submit in early 2013 its first scientific manuscript on the oxidized carotenoid discovery for publication in a major peer-reviewed journal. This will be followed by further manuscript submissions on both the science of the OxC-beta technology and its applications in animal health. Already, as a prelude to these publications, Avivagen's Dr Jamie Nickerson presented a poster that was very well received at the prestigious biennial Gordon Research Conference on Carotenoids held January 6-11, 2013 in Ventura California.
Avivagen, a wellness company, is committed to developing and delivering products to humans and animals to assist in optimizing health and daily quality of life. Avivagen is advancing product candidates for the food animal market, companion animal market and various, potential human applications. More information can be found at www.avivagen.com.
Forward Looking Statements
This news release includes certain forward-looking statements that are based upon current expectations, which involve risks and uncertainties associated with the business of Avivagen Inc. and Avivagen Animal Health Inc. and the environment in which their respective businesses operate. Any statements contained herein that are not statements of historical facts may be deemed to be forward-looking, including those identified by the expressions "will", "anticipate", "believe", "plan", "estimate", "expect", "intend", and similar expressions. The forward-looking statements reflect the current expectations of Avivagen Inc. and Avivagen Animal Health Inc. regarding future results or events. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from current expectations. Avivagen assumes no obligation to update the forward-looking statements, or to update the reasons why actual results could differ from those reflected in the forward-looking statements. The results of treatment described above are based on historical results. Different animals may experience different results from the treatments described above.
Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
For further information contact:
|Avivagen Inc. Dave |Avivagen Inc. Graham |
|Hankinson CEO Tel: |Burton President Tel:|
|902-825-9270 |613-990-0969 |
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