Patenting in the European medical nutrition industry: Trends, opportunities and strategies.

Medical nutrition products are specific nutritional compositions for intervention in disease progression and symptom alleviation. This industry finds itself on the interface between the food and pharmaceutical industry and is still a relatively unknown industry. At present, insights concerning industry development and patenting in the European medical nutrition industry are limited. This research presents a systematic patent portfolio analysis of the industrial patenting trends and patenting strategy categorization of the 5 leading companies.

Focusing on EU patent applications, we calculated company specific patent-, product- and market shares and average forward- and backward-citations. These indicators were combined to illustrate the European medical nutrition industry trends and company specific patent- and innovation-strategies. We found 222 European medical nutrition patent applications between 1990 and 2010.

The analysis of the industry trends shows that the industry currently resides in the growth phase and is estimated to reach the stage of maturation within 2 years with approximately 400 patents. Predominantly neurological diseases, cancer and diabetes show opportunity for future MN innovations while gastrointestinal and infection related diseases may have already reached a market saturation stage. Three distinct patent strategies can be distinguished within this industry: the Prospector; the Analyzer; and the Reactor.

2013 PharmaNutrition 
Weenen TC, Pronker ES, Commandeur HR, Claassen E.