NEW DELHI : Drug sales in India grew at a slower pace in January than in previous periods due to lower sales of antidiabetic drug vildagliptin and antacid ranitidine, data from market research firm AIOCD-AWACS showed.

Sales of medicines in January stood at 12,078 crore, up 7.6% from a year ago. In comparison, sales were up 8.8% in December and 9.6% in April-January. In the fiscal year so far, pharmaceutical companies in India have sold 1.19 trillion worth of drugs.

“A bit of analysis reveals what led to the lower growth for the month of Jan’20… While Vildagliptin & Vildagliptin+Metformin has consolidated 20 crore lesser, ranitidine has consolidated 9 crore lesser," AIOCD-AWACS said.

Anti-diabetic and gastrointestinal drugs were among the therapy areas that dragged sales in the pharmaceutical market, AIOCD-AWACS said.

Novartis’ patent for vildagliptin expired in December, after which many firms launched generic versions of the drug as well as its fixed dose combinations. Anticipating this, Novartis had sold its Zomelis brand of vildagliptin to Eris Lifesciences for $13 million. In January, Novartis’ total sales declined 17% to 105 crore. Ranitidine has been under severe regulatory scrutiny since September over concerns that a manufacturing impurity—N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)—was available above regulatory limits. NDMA is a known environmental carcinogen.

GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, one of the companies which has stopped sales of ranitidine, posted a 0.2% slip in its total sales to 323 crore in January.

GSK Pharmaceuticals was hit by its suspension of manufacturing and sales of Zinetac, its brand of ranitidine. The company was even forced to make certain one-time adjustments related to under-utilization of manufacturing facilities and the impairment of some other assets in its earnings for the October-December quarter.

India’s largest pharmaceutical company Sun Pharmaceuticals posted a sales growth of 10.3% at 1,024 crore during the month, while the largest multinational in the country, the Abbott group, clocked 753 crore in sales, up 5.4%.

Among the top 20 firms, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Pfizer, Aristo Pharmaceuticals, Emcure Pharmaceuticals and Torrent Pharmaceuticals posted the fastest sales growth during the month, in the range of 13.2-20.4%.

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