Anchor ads are not supported on this page.

4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Innovus: twenty-eight drugs in five years

It's not all about sex

Can-C and FlutiCare
Can-C and FlutiCare

“I am very steady. I like to work slowly, but surely, to get to my goal.” Thus speaks Bassam Damaj, president and chief executive officer of San Diego’s Innovus Pharmaceuticals.

Bassam Damaj: “We need more people.”

The truth is just about the opposite. In his five years heading the company, Damaj has led Innovus on a whirlwind growth spurt at a speed I have seldom seen in 54 years covering business. Most health products companies move deliberately. Not Innovus.

Damaj took over in 2013 and publicly stated that there was very little to the company at the time. He then installed his super-growth strategy.

Randy Berholtz: “We don’t need a big sales force.”

At the end of last year, Innovus had a startling 28 products on the market — a dozen of which are sold around the world. Most of these are over-the-counter, nonprescription health products. Only four have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. (By definition, over-the-counter health products have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.) The company intends to launch 7 to 10 more products this year.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Here is what should sober up shareholders: In San Diego, Innovus has a total of 12 to 15 employees, only 3 of whom are officers. A fourth executive, not an officer, is in charge of marketing. Thus, one marketing executive rides herd on 28 products, with up to 10 new ones coming this year. While third parties do all the Innovus manufacturing, and partners do partners perform other functions, one marketing executive simply cannot efficiently manage 28 products, even with the assistance of 3 officers. That’s especially true since Innovus developed more than half its products, “and we’re marketing all of them,” says Damaj.

“We need more people,” admits Damaj. Amen to that.

Of course, Innovus has employees of other companies providing services to it. That is common practice in business. There is a contract call center in Maine with 75 employees. A bulk media company places print advertising in the United States and Canada. The company does have subsidiaries: Semprae Laboratories, Beyond Human, FasTrack Pharmaceuticals, and Novalere. Still, overall, Innovus has a very thin employee base at its 8845 Rehco Road, Miramar headquarters — particularly in top management. Clearly Damaj is the dominant force.

Innovus stock trades over-the-counter and has been selling around 15 cents a share. Despite peddling all those products, the company had only $8.8 million in sales last year, although that was up from $4.8 million in 2016. The company lost $6.5 million last year, down from $13.7 million in 2016. Damaj says Innovus will double sales this year and exit the period in a profitable position. (Of course, he had predicted the company would have revenue of $10 to $17 million last year, and it fell far short of that. “We were not far from the low end of the guidance,” he maintains.)

One reason Damaj says Innovus can handle such fast growth is that he has had a lot of experience in companies. That’s true. The last chief executive job he had was with San Diego biotech Apricus Biosciences. There, among other things, he pushed two sex-related products — Vitaros, a topical erectile dysfunction preparation, and Femprox, a sexual stimulant for women. In February, the Food and Drug Administration rejected Vitaros because of deficiencies in chemistry, manufacturing control, and safety. Apricus has “shelved” Femprox, citing “dismal” sales of similar products by other companies, according to a spokesman.

Many critics think sexual stimulation products for women do not have a market and are overhyped, but Damaj disagrees. Since 2003, Innovus’s entry in that market has sold 15 million units, he says. Despite widespread skepticism, Innovus has said that 43 percent of women have experienced some sort of sexual dysfunction; the potential market is supposedly as large as the erectile dysfunction market for men. Seventy percent of women experienced a more satisfactory sexual experience from using Innovus’s Zestra sex stimulant, according to a clinical test, says Innovus.

Here is the list of Innovus products: in the sex-related area, there is Vesele for promoting sexual health; Zestra for female arousal; Zestra Glide, a lubricant; EjectDelay to treat premature ejaculation; Sensum to alleviate reduced penile sensitivity; Beyond Human, a testosterone booster; PEVarx for peak sexual performance and stamina; and Androferti to support overall male reproductive health and sperm quality.

The company has also entered the red-hot and controversial market for so-called smart pills: RecalMax for brain health. Innovus is also peddling products in widely varying fields: UriVarx for overactive bladder and urinary incontinence; ProstaGorx for prostate support; FlutiCare for allergy symptom relief; Apeaz for pain relief; AllerVarx for allergy relief; ArthriVarx for joint pain; Xyralid, a hemorrhoid cream; Can-C eye drops; Can-C capsules, an eye-care supplement; MZS, a melatonin formula to stabilize circadian rhythms and boost immunity; and Diabasens, a diabetic foot cream.

And then, under the Beyond Human label, there are ketones, krill oil, omega-3 fish oil, eagle vision formula, blood sugar, colon cleanser, green coffee extract, and growth agent.

Whew! If, as Damaj claims, Innovus has developed more than half of these products, somebody with a vast knowledge of the medical and chemical fields has moved very rapidly.

Randy Berholtz, Innovus’s executive vice president, objects to suggestions that the company is growing too fast and spreading itself too thin. “This is a supplement business,” he insists, and it is not unusual for such a company to diversify its product line widely in over-the-counter, nonprescription treatments. “We don’t need a big sales force,” he says.

To sell its products, Innovus put 88 percent of its advertising in print media last year (although that percentage dropped in the first quarter of this year). Innovus is not worried about the downward spiral of print media. “Most of our products appeal to people 65 or over, and a lot of those people still read newspapers. They are not people who go online and order from Amazon,” says Damaj.

Berholtz notes that several of the company’s products have passed extensive clinical trials, and some are patent-protected. The fact that the company is growing so fast is a positive — not something to worry about. “Growing too fast? And that’s a problem? Holy hell!” exclaims Berholtz

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

La Mesa Pizzaworks wins with phony pepperoni

The vegetarian shop stands up to pizza's harshest critics: middle schoolers
Next Article

Encinitas bent on curbing home gas appliances

Stymied by the courts, city proposes incentives instead of a total ban
Can-C and FlutiCare
Can-C and FlutiCare

“I am very steady. I like to work slowly, but surely, to get to my goal.” Thus speaks Bassam Damaj, president and chief executive officer of San Diego’s Innovus Pharmaceuticals.

Bassam Damaj: “We need more people.”

The truth is just about the opposite. In his five years heading the company, Damaj has led Innovus on a whirlwind growth spurt at a speed I have seldom seen in 54 years covering business. Most health products companies move deliberately. Not Innovus.

Damaj took over in 2013 and publicly stated that there was very little to the company at the time. He then installed his super-growth strategy.

Randy Berholtz: “We don’t need a big sales force.”

At the end of last year, Innovus had a startling 28 products on the market — a dozen of which are sold around the world. Most of these are over-the-counter, nonprescription health products. Only four have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. (By definition, over-the-counter health products have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.) The company intends to launch 7 to 10 more products this year.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Here is what should sober up shareholders: In San Diego, Innovus has a total of 12 to 15 employees, only 3 of whom are officers. A fourth executive, not an officer, is in charge of marketing. Thus, one marketing executive rides herd on 28 products, with up to 10 new ones coming this year. While third parties do all the Innovus manufacturing, and partners do partners perform other functions, one marketing executive simply cannot efficiently manage 28 products, even with the assistance of 3 officers. That’s especially true since Innovus developed more than half its products, “and we’re marketing all of them,” says Damaj.

“We need more people,” admits Damaj. Amen to that.

Of course, Innovus has employees of other companies providing services to it. That is common practice in business. There is a contract call center in Maine with 75 employees. A bulk media company places print advertising in the United States and Canada. The company does have subsidiaries: Semprae Laboratories, Beyond Human, FasTrack Pharmaceuticals, and Novalere. Still, overall, Innovus has a very thin employee base at its 8845 Rehco Road, Miramar headquarters — particularly in top management. Clearly Damaj is the dominant force.

Innovus stock trades over-the-counter and has been selling around 15 cents a share. Despite peddling all those products, the company had only $8.8 million in sales last year, although that was up from $4.8 million in 2016. The company lost $6.5 million last year, down from $13.7 million in 2016. Damaj says Innovus will double sales this year and exit the period in a profitable position. (Of course, he had predicted the company would have revenue of $10 to $17 million last year, and it fell far short of that. “We were not far from the low end of the guidance,” he maintains.)

One reason Damaj says Innovus can handle such fast growth is that he has had a lot of experience in companies. That’s true. The last chief executive job he had was with San Diego biotech Apricus Biosciences. There, among other things, he pushed two sex-related products — Vitaros, a topical erectile dysfunction preparation, and Femprox, a sexual stimulant for women. In February, the Food and Drug Administration rejected Vitaros because of deficiencies in chemistry, manufacturing control, and safety. Apricus has “shelved” Femprox, citing “dismal” sales of similar products by other companies, according to a spokesman.

Many critics think sexual stimulation products for women do not have a market and are overhyped, but Damaj disagrees. Since 2003, Innovus’s entry in that market has sold 15 million units, he says. Despite widespread skepticism, Innovus has said that 43 percent of women have experienced some sort of sexual dysfunction; the potential market is supposedly as large as the erectile dysfunction market for men. Seventy percent of women experienced a more satisfactory sexual experience from using Innovus’s Zestra sex stimulant, according to a clinical test, says Innovus.

Here is the list of Innovus products: in the sex-related area, there is Vesele for promoting sexual health; Zestra for female arousal; Zestra Glide, a lubricant; EjectDelay to treat premature ejaculation; Sensum to alleviate reduced penile sensitivity; Beyond Human, a testosterone booster; PEVarx for peak sexual performance and stamina; and Androferti to support overall male reproductive health and sperm quality.

The company has also entered the red-hot and controversial market for so-called smart pills: RecalMax for brain health. Innovus is also peddling products in widely varying fields: UriVarx for overactive bladder and urinary incontinence; ProstaGorx for prostate support; FlutiCare for allergy symptom relief; Apeaz for pain relief; AllerVarx for allergy relief; ArthriVarx for joint pain; Xyralid, a hemorrhoid cream; Can-C eye drops; Can-C capsules, an eye-care supplement; MZS, a melatonin formula to stabilize circadian rhythms and boost immunity; and Diabasens, a diabetic foot cream.

And then, under the Beyond Human label, there are ketones, krill oil, omega-3 fish oil, eagle vision formula, blood sugar, colon cleanser, green coffee extract, and growth agent.

Whew! If, as Damaj claims, Innovus has developed more than half of these products, somebody with a vast knowledge of the medical and chemical fields has moved very rapidly.

Randy Berholtz, Innovus’s executive vice president, objects to suggestions that the company is growing too fast and spreading itself too thin. “This is a supplement business,” he insists, and it is not unusual for such a company to diversify its product line widely in over-the-counter, nonprescription treatments. “We don’t need a big sales force,” he says.

To sell its products, Innovus put 88 percent of its advertising in print media last year (although that percentage dropped in the first quarter of this year). Innovus is not worried about the downward spiral of print media. “Most of our products appeal to people 65 or over, and a lot of those people still read newspapers. They are not people who go online and order from Amazon,” says Damaj.

Berholtz notes that several of the company’s products have passed extensive clinical trials, and some are patent-protected. The fact that the company is growing so fast is a positive — not something to worry about. “Growing too fast? And that’s a problem? Holy hell!” exclaims Berholtz

Comments
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

The Independence finds big yellowtail down south

Tip your servers, they work hard for their money
Next Article

Shop for the Glasses of Your Dreams Online!

Comments
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox Movies@Home — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close

Anchor ads are not supported on this page.