NZ Natural Extracts Export Sucess


Innovative scientist Dr Iona Weir is the woman behind Decima Health, the company that is responsible for Atopis, a natural skincare range providing products that produce real results for people suffering from skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and acne.

Her work on the science behind the products started 30 years ago during her PhD thesis where she demonstrated that plant cells undertake a programme of cell death and renewal. This award winning work was the basis for Myriphytase, the patented active ingredient in Atopis’ products that encourages the human body’s immune system to repair itself.

Dr Weir’s focus has been on creating products from natural sources that also stand up in a clinical setting, products that are proven to work. Atopis first underwent a small clinical trial on eczema sufferers in the United States followed by a larger double blind placebo controlled clinical trial funded by a Callaghan Innovation grant. The results were conclusive - the cream was shown with clinical significance to improve eczema outcomes. Dr. Weir said that Callaghan Innovation’s technical and financial support has helped to progress the business and ensure ongoing trials and research remain a uniquely New Zealand story, where the IP, patents and research are wholly New Zealand owned.

With the confidence of the clinical trials Dr Weir and her team were now requiring premises to upscale the process and enable export to United States. Dr Weir had been working on the Myriphytase at her home in Auckland during the start-up phase of the business, and as her ingredients are food grade, in order to meet manufacturing regulatory requirements, she was able to use The FoodBowl.

“The first trial was a complete disaster” laughs Dr Weir, it took a few goes but they finally achieved a product able to be exported. Dr Weir credits The FoodBowl with taking her “bench top science” and converting it into a commercial process “the practical application is so valuable” she says. The availability of different processing equipment also means Weir can test out her “crazy ideas” with The Foodbowl process engineers on hand to help.

Dr Weir has had her sights set firmly on the export market, particularly to The United States and Australia. Currently 25% of Atopis’s sales are from export through their online channels and this is expected grow substantially in the few years due to the Eczema product achieving FDA approval as an over the counter eczema treatment. A first for a New Zealand developed product, this listing allows the product to be stocked on Amazon’s eczema treatments page which only allows FDA-approved products. She said in the US approximately 50 per cent of Over The Countersales now occur online through approved USFDA outlets such as Amazon.