Hyderabad: Sanofi India Ltd, a unit of French drugmaker Sanofi SA, said on Friday it’s planning to launch insulin production in India in one or two years through local subsidiary Shantha Biotechnics Ltd.

Sanofi will transfer its insulin making technology to Shantha, which produces vaccines. “We are evaluating the whole process," said Cyrus Aibara, senior director, diabetes business unit, at Sanofi.

Sanofi acquired Shantha for €440 million from another French company, Mérieux Alliance, in July 2009. Shantha is investing around $300 million in augmenting capacity and improving overall quality standards.

“There is enough capacity to produce insulin from our second phase of expansion," said K.I. Varaprasad Reddy, founder and non-executive chairman of Shantha. “Insulin is a complex product to make, so it will be priced plus or minus 5-10% over competition."

The International Diabetes Federation estimates India had 50.8 million diabetes patients in 2010. The figure is expected to rise to 87 million by 2030.

The total market size of insulin in India is around 1,000 crore and is growing at 20%, Sanofi said.

Diabetes contributes about 15% of Sanofi’s total sales of 2,000 crore in India. The company’s insulin business generates about 150 crore, of which its blockbuster insulin product Lantus alone contributes 50-60 crore.

“We are planning to have 15-20% market share in next three years," Aibara said.

Lantus is the world’s biggest selling insulin product, with annual sales of $5 billion a year.

Sanofi competes with Novo Nordisk A/S, Eli Lilly and Co. and Biocon Ltd in the Indian market.

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