Ishani Duttagupta, Bangalore
Monday, May 29, 2006

Ayurveda for Americans

  It's not just his own company, Muhammed Majeed wants to take Indian medicinal systems on a global spree

Muhammed Majeed, founder & CEO of Sabinsa Corporation, USA & Sami Labs, India, wanted to become a successful technopreneur rather than a scientist. It was this dream out of which his company Sabinsa Corporation was born in New Jersey after he completed an MS in industrial pharmacy from Long Island University and a doctorate from St John’s University.

“Soon after that I set up my other company Sami Labs in India. In those days, there were no ayurvedic products from India available in the US and we were the first to introduce a new line of OTC products in that market, based on Indian herbal plants.

Our first trademark product was Gugulipid, which is gum resin extracted from an Indian medicinal tree that has been clinically proven to reduce the levels of harmful serum lipids in the bloodstream. Since 2000, complementary medicine has become a part of integrated medicine and there are now more than 50 Indian companies with ayurvedic products in the US,” says Majeed who was born and raised in Kerala.

Sami Labs manufactures standardised herbal extracts, cosmeceuticals, probiotics, spice extracts, minerals, fine chemicals, phytochemicals and oils used in the nutritional, pharmaceutical and food industries.

He has been involved in persistent efforts to popularise ayurveda among Americans. “I’ve been on the lecture circuit at educational institutions and industry research institutions both in US and India. There is an urgent need for clinical and scientific research and documentation in ayurveda. We are also working with health and nutritional associations and educational groups,” says Majeed.

The group’s facility near Bangalore is focused on innovative application-based products and adheres to high quality assurance standards. The group also has a manufacturing facility in Utah in the US. “Our global markets have expanded to Europe, Japan, Australia, Middle East and South Africa,” says Majeed.

The global revenue of the company today stands approximately at $60 million, with an employee strength of 50 people in USA, 700 in India and around 100 scientists worldwide. The company is also on the prowl for acquisitions in US, Europe and India. “We are looking at companies with sales of between $20 m to $50 m to acquire,” says Majeed.

He has worked closely with doctors of Indian origin in the US, feels that like Yoga, ayurveda too can become very popular in the US if marketed aggressively. His business brings him to India very often and he’s thinking of applying for dual citizenship soon.

“My daughter is a scientist with the research and development unit of the group while my son is with the manufacturing operations in Utah. I encourage my children and grandchildren to travel to India often and speak in Malayalam,” he says. As for himself, besides the manufacturing facilities he’s also looking at tying up with farmers in Punjab for supply of plants for his operations.