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Cholesterol-Lowering Spread Due Soon

May 03, 1999|Bloomberg News

Unilever's cholesterol-lowering spread called Take Control is expected to beat Johnson & Johnson's rival Benecol to U.S. stores. Unilever's spread was deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration last week and is available in Chicago grocery stores. It will be found everywhere in the $1.3-billion U.S. margarine market later this month. The spread costs more than twice as much as traditional margarine. Johnson & Johnson, meanwhile, whose Benecol has not yet been approved, said it hopes to have the product on store shelves by June. J&J licensed Benecol from Finland's Raisio Oyj, which discovered the active ingredient known as plant stanol esters, the wood pulp byproduct of paper-making. Analysts predict the new spreads, which are already bestsellers in European markets, to eventually generate $200 million a year in U.S. sales. When eaten once or twice a day, as Unilever recommends, studies show Take Control can cut cholesterol levels 7% to 10%, said David Blanchard, vice president of research and development at the Lipton division of the Dutch-British company.

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