Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

Drugs sales hit 3-year high on demand for anti-diabetic, cardiac care medicines

  • Sales of medicines in India grew 9.8% year-on-year to 1.4 trillion in the year gone by
  • Trend for the growth of anti-diabetic and cardiac care medicines reflects the rise in the number of diabetes and heart disease patients in the country

NEW DELHI : Medicine sales in India in 2019 grew at the fastest rate in three years, aided by sales of anti-diabetic and cardiac care drugs, according to data from market research firm AIOCD-AWACS.

Sales of medicines in India grew 9.8% year-on-year to 1.4trillion in the year gone by, with drugs used to treat chronic diseases leading sales growth.

The trend for growth of anti-diabetic and cardiac care medicines reflects the rise in the number of diabetes and heart disease patients in the country, and the increasing focus of pharmaceutical companies on the therapy areas.

Anti-diabetic medicine sales rose 12.6% year-on-year, with a new class of drugs called SGLT2 (sodium-glucose co-transporter 2) inhibitors driving growth, while cardiac care drugs rose 11.7%. Among cardiac medicines, it was the combination drug of sacubitril and valsartan that led sales growth.

“SGLT2 is a new segment of anti-diabetes drugs. It is expected to grow disproportionately more than other diabetes medicines over the next 5-10 years," said Vishal Manchanda, an analyst with Nirmal Bang Institutional Equities.

Over the last 24 months, various anti-diabetes drugs in the SGLT2-inhibitor class have been launched. In 2019, Boehringer Ingelheim’s Glyxambi, Lupin’s Ajaduo and Astrazeneca’s Xigduo were the major brands in terms of sales.

A major development among anti-diabetes medicines in December was the expiry of Novartis’ patent on vildagliptin, which led to a surge in generic versions of the drug. In December, 52 new brands of anti-diabetes drugs were launched, accounting for a fifth of the new launches during the month, as per the data.

India is home to one of the largest number of diabetes patients in the world at over 70 million, while heart diseases are known to be one of the biggest causes of death in the country.

Cardiac and diabetes drugs are under-penetrated therapy areas, and are expected to grow at a faster pace compared to the other segments, Manchanda said.

The top four medicine brands sold in India, Abbott’s Mixtard, USV’s Glycomet GP, Sanofi India’s Lantus and MSD Pharmaceutical’s Janumet, are for the treatment of diabetes, according to the data.

Medicines for treatment of chronic diseases, like heart diseases, cancer and diabetes, clocked 11.2% sales growth, while those for acute illnesses like influenza and pneumonia recorded an increase of 9.2%.

Other major segments like anti-infectives, neurological, respiratory and pain medications also grew by nearly a tenth during the year.

Among the 10 major drugmakers, Lupin led with 14.5% growth at 5,418 crore, while Intas Pharmaceuticals, Mankind Pharma, and Alkem Laboratories and its group companies also posted high growth in the range of 13-14% in the year.

India’s largest drugmaker Sun Pharmaceutical Industries posted 8.4% growth at 11,440 crore, while the largest multinational the Abbott group posted 8,722 crore in sales, up 9.5%. However, domestic pharmaceutical firms’ sales grew 9.9%, against multinationals’ 9.3% growth rate.

In 2019, sales of both drugs that are and are not under National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority’s ceiling prices grew 9-10%.

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