New Delhi: Sanofi-Aventis SA, the €29.3 billion (around Rs1.74 trillion) Paris-based pharmaceutical company, is seeking to strengthen its presence in the growing market for diabetes solutions in India, including diagnostic systems to check blood glucose levels.

The company recently tied up with AgaMatrix Inc. to co-develop blood glucose monitors.

“We don’t want to be a single-product company; we are moving from treatment to diabetes solution," said Pierre Chancel, global head of the company’s newly created diabetes division. “When you think about a diabetic patient using insulin, it’s not only injecting insulin; it’s monitoring his blood glucose (level), minimum once a day."

Sanofi-Aventis plans to introduce its blood glucose monitors next year in India.

Expanding horizon: Pierre Chancel, head of Sanofi-Aventis’ diabetes division, says the firm seeks to offer complete diabetes solution. Ramesh Pathania / Mint

“The skyrocketing epidemic of diabetes, not only in India but everywhere, led to the decision to reorganize the company to give it the means to address it (diabetes) properly, and we decided to create a diabetes division and an oncology division, and we officially launched in January," said Chancel, explaining the rationale for setting up a separate diabetes division.

The market in India for treatment of diabetes is around Rs2,000 crore a year, according to Susheel Umesh, senior director of the cardio-metabolism unit at Aventis Pharma Ltd, the local unit of Sanofi-Aventis.

According to Chancel, India has nearly three times the number of diabetic patients in the US and five-eight times the number of patients in France. The company plans to tap India’s rural markets for treatment of diabetes.

“We don’t want just to be focusing on only metros and tier I cities. We will offer customized solutions, which means the right product at the right price corresponding to the right location," said Chancel.

Sanofi-Aventis, he said, would probably work in tandem with the government to make its insulin-based products available in rural areas.

The company’s latest insulin product, Lantus, has been growing at 33% annually in India, according to Umesh. “We already have a 10% market share, with sales of Rs50 crore on Lantus," he said.

Lantus differs from other insulin injectables in that it requires only once-a-day administration and its effect lasts 24 hours, making it a long-acting drug.