Price War In Anti Diabetic Medicine Segment

With the increase in the number of diabetic patients, there is a market of Rs 15 thousand crore of its medicines in the country and the growth of this segment is 14-17% annually. Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Anti-Diabetes drug Remogliflozin is selling at half price compared to other companies.

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A price war is brewing in India’s growing diabetes drug market, drawing comparisons with the recent tariff battles in the telecom sector. Glenmark Pharmaceuticals NSE -1.45 % has launched a patented anti-diabetes drug Remogliflozin (branded Remo), which it developed with Japanese partner Kissei Pharmaceutical Company, priced at half the rate of rival offerings. Remo comes under a class of drugs called SGLT2 (sodium glucose co-transporter-2), which provides glycemic control, induces weight loss and reduces cardiovascular risks.

This is the first new drug by an Indian company to win approval in the past six years, Glenn Saldanha, MD of Glenmark, told ET. He said SGLT2 drugs are the fastest-growing category and Remo will be offered at a “significant discount” to the high-priced brands in this class. Remo is priced at Rs 25 per day, or Rs 750 for a month, and will take on Forxiga of AstraZenecaNSE 1.93 %, Jardiance from German drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim and Invokana of Jansen, which cost patients about Rs 1,500 per month.

Glenmark had initiated a similar price war with its Teneligliptin, another new class of drugs called DPP4 for the treatment of type-II diabetes mellitus. The growing burden of diabetes has created a Rs 15,000 crore market in India for drugs to treat the disease, one that is growing in double digits. With 72 million Indian adults suffering from diabetes, drug companies have a range of patients to target. However, low prices also mean that only the fittest survive.

Medicines to treat diabetes have been growing at 14-17%, largely driven by launches of the lowcost class of drugs called glitpins, according to data from the All India Chemists & Druggists Association. Among SGLT2 drugs, the leader is Jardiance, which recorded 28% sales growth in March. Glenmark’s launch will make an impact in this segment, analysts said.
“We are the guys who got the transformation in DPP4 and we can do the same thing in here,” Saldanha told ET. Glenmark’s plan is to transform the traditional disease management treatment of diabetes, where older therapies such as metformin and sulfonylureas are most commonly prescribed. However, unlike India’s telecom sector that was left bleeding by the price war, few industry experts expect drug companies to be hurt by such competition.

“In India, there are two buckets of patients – one that goes to specialists and premium doctors and the other that looks for affordable treatment. This allows the highly priced and its cheaper counterparts to thrive,” said Ameesh Masurekar of the druggists and chemists association. However, going extremely low on price might not be helpful either as physicians tend to think that such drugs could be of poor quality, said Rajiv Juneja, MD of Mankind Pharma. Mankind’s version of Tenaligliptin is priced at Rs 3 a day. “Those who cannot afford expensive treatments come to us, so our strategy is go big on volumes,” Juneja said

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