3i commits €50m to herbal medicine firm

The venture capital group has announced an investment of around €50m in Lichtwer Pharma, a Berlin-based producer of herbal medicines.

Lichtwer Pharma, a Berlin-based producer of plant-based medicines, has received a cash injection of around €50 million ($61 million) from 3i.      

Founded in 1981, Lichtwer Pharma employs 200 staff and makes natural medicines for applications relating to the central nervous system, gastro-enterology, the cardiovascular system, and dermatology. It is best known for Kwai, a garlic-based medicine, and also uses ingredients such as St John’s wort, fish oil and peppermint in its products.

In a statement, 3i said it would work with the firm’s management team to focus on further expansion of existing business, organic growth through innovation and growth outside the German market. The firm will continue to sell its products through pharmacies and says it stands to benefit from German healthcare reforms, which are expected to lead to an increase in self-medication.

“We chose 3i as partner because of its experience in healthcare, strong reputation and the benefit of access to their global healthcare portfolio,” said Norbert Holzer, the firm’s chief executive officer. “The goal is to turn Lichtwer Pharma into one of the leading producers of drugs for self-medication.”

The business, which also includes subsidiaries Sertuerner Arzneimittel and Omega Pharma, posted turnover of €60 million in the last financial year. The firm has overseas offices in the Benelux region and UK, and sells its products in 30 countries on four continents.

The firm claims that the effectiveness and tolerance of its plant-based medicines are demonstrated by scientific studies. It goes on to claim that this has established its medicines as a therapeutic alternative to chemically defined drugs.

In Germany, 3i has invested over €1.9 billion in 500 companies since 1986. Its portfolio in the German-speaking region comprises 230 holdings, including over 50 in the healthcare sector.