01 may

DRC Group

Since 2005, DRC Group has been manufacturing unique toothpastes, which are made with natural ingredients using their own low-temperature technology, under the R.O.C.S. brand. The head of the DRC group, Candidate of Medical Sciences Svetlana Matelo, thinks that the company’s products have the potential necessary to become one of the leading global brands – consumers from over 30 countries are already choosing R.O.C.S. products over others.

From progress to production

Svetlana Matelo. PhD, CEO DRC Group
Svetlana Matelo. PhD, CEO DRC Group

The DRC Group itself was was formed in 2004, along with the WDS research laboratory. Their task was to create innovative oral care products that could make an impact on the industry. The product formula also had to be “patentable” worldwide. “At that moment the team had already accumulated a wealth of experience in dental prophylaxis. We had been cooperating with well-known scientists in the field from Russia, Belarus, and Europe. Having taken the best ideas from the Soviet, American and Finnish schools of dental prophylaxis, we improved and mixed them with our own, which resulted in our unique technology and product formulas”, - recalls Svetlana Matelo. “In February 2005 we launched our own product line under the new and then unknown R.O.C.S. brand. This was the first line of oral care products with an age differentiation and a separate formula for each age category. In preparation for the launch, we had acquired a small toothpaste manufacturing facility in Domodedovo, called EvroCosMed beforehand. The launch of the R.O.C.S. brand was very successful, we never wasted a single day moving forward. Our product was always cleared off of the shelves quickly, unlike many others. The sales have straight away shown a positive dynamic – as if the market had been waiting for our products.”

Without fluoride and antiseptics

The name of the brand itself, R.O.C.S. (Remineralizing Oral Care Systems), precisely reflects the product’s concept. All R.O.C.S. toothpastes are medicinal and prophylactic – they strengthen the enamel, increase tooth resistance to caries, relieve and prevent inflammation of the gums, freshen the breath and give the teeth back their natural whiteness. Long-lasting tooth and gum hygiene is a trademark of R.O.C.S. products.

The brand’s philosophy can be expressed in three words: quality, effectiveness, safety. When developing toothpaste formulas, the WDS laboratory pays a lot of attention to the quality of ingredients, their compatibility and the amounts in which they would be most effective.

Recently, both in Russia and in the West, products made with natural ingredients are especially popular. This is precisely why the company prioritizes the development of technologies allowing for the synthesis of formulas based on natural ingredients, as well as medical evaluation of the final products.

The R.O.C.S. range even has toothpastes made almost completely from natural ingredients, for example, R.O.C.S. Bionica, 95% of which is natural raw materials, with the other 5% being biocompatible ingredients like calcium glycerylphosphate. These natural toothpastes do not only keep the teeth clean, but also protect them, lower their sensitivity and also improve the condition of even diseased gums.

One specific feature of the R.O.C.S. toothpastes is the extremely scant use of fluorides. Most of the toothpastes do not contain fluoride at all, and when it is used, it is used in relatively small amounts. However, R.O.C.S. toothpastes that contain no fluoride are no less effective than those of its competitors that do contain fluoride, making them a safe alternative in caries prophylaxis. Universal use of fluorides in toothpastes is not always justified, as fluoride is a toxic substance, an excess of which in the human body can lead to long-term negative effects like mineralization defects in bone tissue, tooth decay, weakening of the immune system, faster aging, Alzheimer’s, etc. The recommended daily intake of fluoride is only 2-3 mg. An adult can easily fulfill the need for fluoride just by drinking water or tea and eating foods like apples, fish and even bread. Toothpastes containing fluoride are especially dangerous for young children, as they usually ingest 70-100% of the toothpaste that they use.

As an alternative to fluoride, a set of minerals that contain the biologically available calcium, phosphate and magnesium is used. The anti-caries effectiveness of the mineralizing formula used in R.O.C.S. toothpastes had been proven by a two-year study of school caries prevention, which was carried out under the supervision of the World Health Organization. An adapted formula makes up the basis of the R.O.C.S. Medical Minerals remineralizing gel, which displays impressive results in treating acute caries, where fluorides are generally ineffective. The formula is also used in treating children’s early caries without the risk of negative side effects, as well as in cosmetic dentistry.

R.O.C.S. toothpastes for everyday use are not abrasive and do not contain any sanding additives, as these additives are not suitable for everyone because of their hardness. Usually, in order to get rid of harmful microorganisms and bacteria that form plaque, toothpaste manufacturers use different antiseptics, such as triclosan, chlorhexidine, cetylpyridinium chloride, which suppress both harmful and friendly microorganisms. R.O.C.S. toothpastes contain no antiseptics and therefore do not interfere with the normal oral microflora, but at the same time help drastically reduce the share of harmful bacteria in the flora. This is achieved thanks to the anti-adhesive properties or bromelain and xylitol – the most important active ingredients in the R.O.C.S. formula. Bromelain, synthesized from pineapple stems, decomposes plaque and prevents the formation of new plaque. Xylitol, being a natural ingredient, has antimicrobial properties, which are used to fight caries-producing bacteria and fungi. Based on clinical trials, microbiologists have concluded that R.O.C.S. toothpastes possess prebiotic qualities and normalize the composition of the oral microflora.

In search of new formulas

The WDS research facility is constantly developing new formulas for products. This is a lengthy and costly process, considering that the philosophy of the R.O.C.S. brand demands that the company’s specialists give preference to natural and mineral components that have already proven their effectiveness in caries and gum disease prophylaxis.

The formulas of new products are subjected to strenuous laboratory and clinical trials, both in the development stage and after the launch of the product. The results of these trials are always published in specialized medical publications, and also presented at scientific conferences both in Russia and abroad, including the FDI World Dental Federation congresses. Today the laboratory owns more than 50 formula patents, while its finds have been made to be the basis for more than 10 scientific studies.

However, one of the main obstacles in the laboratory’s operation is its dependence on foreign-made ingredients. Since most of them are simply not manufactured in Russia, 80% of the raw materials have to be purchased abroad. In order to solve this problem, the company is already setting in motion plans to produce several of these ingredients on its own.

The use of a large quantity of natural components also demands special production techniques, which make the production itself more complex and time-consuming than normal. In order to preserve the beneficial properties of the components, R.O.C.S. toothpastes are synthesized at low temperatures, which takes eight hours instead of the usual two.

Size does matter

The DRC group produces about a hundred different toothpastes, each designed for a specific age group, from children who have only started to teethe to the elderly.

The R.O.C.S. Baby toothpaste can be used even before any teeth have appeared, in order to protect the gums. At this age, children are not yet able to rinse their mouths, and almost always swallow all toothpaste. This is the reason why this particular toothpaste is manufactured using natural components, which are not harmful when swallowed, do not cause allergic reactions and lessen the discomfort of teething.

For the 3-7 age group, the company offers the R.O.C.S. Kids range, while for the 8-18 age group – R.O.C.S. Teens. The formulas of these toothpastes have been developed while paying special attention to how the teeth develop at each specific aging stage. Besides toothpastes, the company also manufactures several dental rinses, as well as a wide variety of oral hygiene utensils: brushes, dental floss and interdental brushes.

The company’s products can be put into the “subpremium” (priced at 150-300 rubles per tube of toothpaste) and “premium” (>300 rubles per tube) price ranges. However, the consumers buying R.O.C.S. products are not only people with above average incomes, but everyone who prefers to spend money on natural and safe oral hygiene products for themselves and their children. “Our customers feel the difference right after the first use of our products, that is why they recommend it to their friends. Our products are also being actively recommended by professionals not only in Russia, but also far beyond its borders,” – explains Svetlana Matelo. In the Russian toothpaste market, the company’s share comes close to 10% of total value, while in the pharmacy market, according to DSM Group, in the last 9 months the R.O.C.S. brand has become the absolute leader not only in toothpastes but also in dental brushes (29.7% of the total market). The R.O.C.S. children’s toothpastes are also leading the children’s oral care market.

Expanding abroad

Developing active exports is one of the top priorities of the company. A European office was opened in 2005, called DRC Baltia, through which the company could start its European expansion. The products were certified for sale in the European Union and passed trials at a Finnish laboratory, where a safety dossier was written up for every single product. Today, aside from Russia, R.O.C.S. toothpastes can be bought in other CIS countries, the Baltic countries, Finland, Germany, Turkey, Japan, Cyprus, Poland and Malaysia. In total, DRC’s products are sold in over 30 countries worldwide.

“Business ambitions and the wish to demonstrate our innovations is what pushed the company to expand abroad,” – explains Svetlana. “The costs of promoting our products in markets in other countries are higher, especially now, after the devaluation of the ruble. However, thanks to a well-thought out promotion strategy we are succeeding in increasing the brand awareness in foreign markets.” Svetlana is sure that with time, R.O.C.S. will become a global brand.

Lean production

Since the purchase of the Domodedovo factory, the DRC group has modernized it several times. As a result, its output has grown 4 times. “However, at some point in time, a limit will be reached. Having foreseen this, we had begun to think about building a new manufacturing plant,” – explains Svetlana Matelo.

In 2010, a piece of land in the Stupino industrial park in the Moscow Oblast, which is one of the top-20 industrial centers in Russia, was handed over to the group for the construction of a new manufacturing plant. The production at the new site was launched in 2014.

“The factory is located in an ecologically clean district in the Moscow Oblast and in itself is a remarkable example of environmentally-friendly manufacturing,” – says Svetlana Matelo. “Thanks to the specifics of the building, the production itself is as energy-saving as it could be, and the water, which is released into the environment, is cleaner than the water sent to the factory via the plumbing. Today, the plant is probably not only one of the most modern in the industry in Russia, but also in the whole of the Eurasian continent.” The ISO 9001:2008 management system standard is employed at the plant, along with a modern system of material and production stocktaking. The production process itself is fully automatic and adheres to the GMP standards for cosmetics production.

“Evrocosmed-Stupino” is not only supported by the Stupino district administration, but also by the Moscow Oblast administration. “The town administration, headed by Pavel Chelpan, exerts the maximum amount of effort in order to create comfortable conditions for manufacturers,” – says Svetlana. “You could say that they helped us build the plant. Practically every week there had been meetings in the administration building with all services and contractors involved in order to streamline the building process as much as possible. Without a doubt, this is a unique industrial district in Russia, and its administration experience should be shared with and exported to other regions.”

Also, as part of the governmental support program for small and medium-sized business, the enterprise has been receiving compensation for the interest rate being paid on loans that have been taken out to pay for the building of the plant, as well as subsidies covering part of the costs of buying equipment. In 2014, the DRC Company was the top receiver of financial aid in the region. “The Moscow Oblast administration has really contributed a lot of support for the MSP. Without a doubt, from our point of view, the Moscow Oblast administration team is today one of the most successful and professional teams in Russia. The demands that they have been putting forward in return for their support of MSP are sound, realistic, and, what is even better, they are being constantly updated. The administration listens to our wishes and concerns” – notes Svetlana.

Pharmaceutical and cosmetics perspectives

The further development of the plant envisages a significant widening of the variety of perfumery and cosmetics being manufactured, the synthesis of the company’s own ingredients and the manufacturing of medicinal products. In 2014, the DRC group had made its first step on the way to developing a future pharmaceutical producer when “Herpenox”, a dental gel that combats herpes, was launched. In December 2015, the company had launched a new, innovative brand of professional cosmetics – Femegyl. Soon, a laboratory where pharmaceutical substances will be synthesized, will be opened at the plant.

“Right now the Evrocosmed-Stupino plant is only operating at half of its potential”, - says Svetlana Matelo. “But seeing as our volumes are constantly on the rise and the variety of our products grows, soon the factory will be operating at full load. At present, the administration of Stupino are helping us to obtain another piece of land where we could then build several more buildings as we expand our manufacturing.”