With the world’s largest population of diabetics, India is set to see the launch of a range of novel diabetes treatments from foreign drug makers such as Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Merck.
The companies are variously pitching convenience, innovative delivery systems or a touch of the esoteric. Pfizer’s Exubera, an insulin inhaler, can be inhaled like an antiasthma spray.
Merck’s Januvia is a pill that needs to be taken only once a day; it increases the human body’s ability to reduce higher levels of blood sugar.
And Eli Lilly will soon launch Byetta, a product developed from the saliva of the gila monster which helps in controlling diabetes and in weight loss.
The Rs1,200-crore diabtetes treatment market is growing at around 20-22% a year, with various forms of insulin accounting for the largest chunk, Rs310 crore.
India has 32 million diabetics and the number is estimated to grow to 57.2 million by 2025.
The launches will be the first by multinational pharmaceutical companies targeting diabetics in the country, since GlaxoSmithKline’s launch of blockbuster diabetes drug Avandia in 2005. The three companies have applied for patents for the drugs in India too.
Kewal Handa, managing director, Pfizer, told Mint that the company had “applied for necessary clearances” and admitted that it was gearing up for a launch, but refused to put a time to it.
Exubera is a blockbuster for Pfizer with estimated global sales of $2billion by 2010. Executives at Merck India were not available for comment on a possible date of launch for Januvia.
And a spokesperson for Eli Lilly confirmed that the company was in the process of launching Byetta in India. “The drug is in clinical trials in India and we have definite plans to launch it in the domestic market,” he said.
The global diabetes market is forecast to grow to $31.4 billion by 2011. It was valued at $ 15 billion in 2005.