Dr Muhammed Majeed (September 25, 1948 – March 13, 2024)

The Founder and Chair of the Sami-Sabinsa Group pioneered the development of standardised herbal extracts from India’s Ayurvedic plants and created a global market for them

Dr Muhammed Majeed, the Founder and Chair of the Sami-Sabinsa Group, has recently passed away. 

Dr Majeed grew up in Kerala, India, as one of six children. After his father passed away when he was 12, his mother, did everything in her power to see that her son be highly educated.

After earning an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy from the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College in 1973, Muhammed Majeed worked as a teacher before emigrating to the US in 1975 with eight dollars in his pocket. 

Initially working in a pharmacy, he pursued his master’s in industrial pharmacy from Long Island University (NY, USA). He then went on to complete his doctorate in industrial pharmacy from St John’s University (NY, USA) in 1986. 

His Pharma industry experience included Pfizer, Carter Wallace and as Head of Research at Paco Pharmaceuticals, New Jersey, US.

Realising the potential of India’s Ayurvedic system of medicine, Dr Majeed anticipated an underdeveloped market opportunity to provide Ayurveda-based products to the developed world. 

He focused on combining the ancient knowledge of Ayurveda with modern science and developed evidence-based plant products through innovation, standardisation and value-addition at every step.

In 1988, Dr Majeed started operation of the Sabinsa Corporation in New Jersey as the first phase of his vision. Initially launched to make generic drugs, he saw an opportunity to introduce ingredients based upon traditional Ayurvedic knowledge backed by modern science at a time when Americans were turning towards natural health care options. 

Dr Majeed pioneered a unique concept in the US called ‘Sabinsa on Wheels’, inviting dietary supplement companies to attend detailed scientific presentations about the company’s offerings.

In 1991, Dr Majeed set up Sami Labs Limited, a cutting-edge research and manufacturing facility in Bengaluru, India. 

Today, Sami, a division of Sami-Sabinsa Group Limited alongside Sabinsa, operates eleven manufacturing facilities and employs over 1,400 people, including over 120 senior scientists who dig deeply into the mechanisms of action and physiological effects of herbs, then share that knowledge through publication in peer-reviewed journals. 

Specialised research and product development are conducted across Phytochemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Tissue Culture, and Plant Biotechnology. Today, the Sami-Sabinsa Group commercially markets over 120 standardised botanical extracts in 17 countries. 

Many of these are patented: Dr Majeed was granted over 500 US and international patents.

In 1992, Dr Majeed founded America’s Finest, Inc, a dietary supplement company specialising in ingredient-specific and condition-specific formulations with the company’s ingredients. In early 1999, Sami Labs started a division called Sami Spices in Cochin, India, to promote procurement and marketing of spices. 

In the same year, Organica Aromatics was launched to serve the flavour and fragrance industry by developing high-quality aromatic chemicals and perfumery compounds. 

Sabinsa Cosmetics was formed in 2001 to market specialised ingredients for the personal care and cosmetics industries. When the wellness wave hit India in 2010, Dr Majeed seized upon the direct-to-consumer business model and started Sami Direct to market his company’s ingredients in consumer product goods. 

Sami Direct now offers 20 products, ranging from weight management, joint health, bone strength, detox supplements and skincare and cosmetics.

Over 36 years, the Sami-Sabinsa Group has expanded its operations in the US and India, and established full-fledged operations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, UAE and Vietnam, in addition to satellite offices in France, Hungary, Spain, Taiwan and the UK.

Dr Majeed believed that a good supplement begins with quality ingredients sustainably supplied. He directed his team to identify small and marginal farmers in Salem and surrounding districts in the state of Tamil Nadu, India to cultivate key Ayurvedic herbs. 

Beginning in 2006, Dr Majeed provided training, planting materials and ongoing support to thesefarmers as well as their communities.

Committed to fair trade practices, the company contracts call for paying a guaranteed price even if crop fails due to weather extremes, and pays more for a harvest when market prices dictate.

Underlying all the company’s endeavours was a commitment to sustainability, from the environmental considerations incorporated into all the company’s manufacturing facilities to the award-winning Kino tree reforestation programme.

During his lifetime, both Dr Majeed and the companies he created were often recognised for his achievements. He was a two-time recipient of the Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award.

For enterprising work in developing science-based proprietary ingredients, the governments of India and the US, as well as institutions and global organisations recognised Dr Majeed and his company. 

He was presented the National Award for Quality and Innovation by the President of India in 1995, 1997, and 2008, and in 2002, the prestigious Department of Scientific & Industrial Research award. 

Dr Majeed’s scientific literature contributions include more than 200 peer-reviewed research papers, including four book chapters in leading scientific journals. He has authored or co-authored 15 books describing the history and benefits of multiple herbal extracts and the research into their beneficial compounds.

Dr Majeed is succeeded as Chairperson of the Sami-Sabinsa Group by his daughter Dr Anju Majeed, Director and Senior Scientist. He is remembered fondly by his daughters Anju and Sami, his son Shaheen, and grandchildren Rizwan, Johara, Nasneen, Ramses, Sunayna, Rajah, and Maximo.

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