Dr Reddy’s launches cheaper anemia drug

Dr Reddy’s launches cheaper anemia drug

Hyderabad: Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd on Monday launched a biosimilar or off-patent version of an anemia drug that it says will cut treatment costs by about half.

The darbepoentin alfa medicine, to be sold by Dr Reddy’s in India under the brand name Cresp, is used to treat anemia resulting from chronic kidney diseases or chemotherapy. Cresp is a copy of Amgen Inc.’s Aranesp, which is not available in India.

Currently, such anemia is treated in India with epoetin alfa, a synthetic hormone that controls red blood cell production. It is sold by Johnson and Johnson under the brand name Eprex at Rs10,000 for a month’s treatment.

Cresp will be priced at Rs4,500.

“Every time we have introduced biosimilars such as reditux (a lymphoma drug) in India in the past, we have been able to expand the market with our pricing," Ritha Chandrachud, India head, Dr Reddy’s, said at a press briefing.

The company said the market size for darbepoetin alfa in India is Rs150 crore. Amgen’s Aranesp saw global sales of about $2.65 billion in 2009.

“We plan to spend Rs30-40 crore on biologics R&D and Rs150 crore on capex over the next 1.5 years. Once all these products are launched at the rate of about one a year, we should be the biggest biologics player in the world," said G.V. Prasad, vice-chairman and chief executive of Dr Reddy’s.

Biologics are new drugs created from biological processes and biosimilars are generic versions of such drugs.

Priyanka Pulla