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Lactose Intolerance - Tackling the Sweet Issue

Espresso-live Speakers
by Sandeep Chandra Ramesh
2 September 2013

Lactose intolerance is a condition wherein individuals are unable to digest lactose, on account of a deficiency of the enzyme lactase in the small intestine. In severe cases of lactose intolerance, there is a total absence of the enzyme. The article highlights the market potential for lactose alternatives. Introduction An estimated 70% of the global population suffers from lactose intolerance; growing awareness being the main cause of identifying people with the condition. About 60 million in the US suffer from this condition currently, the market for OTC aids for the US market alone stands at about USD 2 billion. The condition is more pronounced in the India and China with about 70% and 90% of the population pools in this region estimated to be suffering from this condition. Queries on lactose-free medications have been so high that the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, in 2009, came up with an exhaustive list of lactose-free medications for pharmaceutical reference. Although small amounts of lactose are used by the pharmaceutical industry even with respect to the average lactose-intolerant individual (<12 grams of lactose is considered acceptable), those suffering from this condition and requiring multi-dose medicines are susceptible to feel the effects of intolerance. Also, there is a patient pool comprising of the extremely sensitive to lactose, which cannot ingest even minute quantities of the excipient requiring alternatives. Research on medications prescribed for a wide range of gastrointestinal disorders shows that there could be as much as 10g of lactose being ingested by patients per day, in addition to lactose intake through food sources, which could lead to symptoms in vulnerable population.

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