Updated: Jul 25, 2019, 11.11 AM IST
MUMBAI: There is some good news around the corner for the over 72 million diabetics in India, as cheaper versions of a blockbuster drug are expected to hit the market soon. With one of the relatively newer but important anti-diabetic drugs, Vildagliptin manufactured by Novartis, losing patent protection in December, dozens of companies are readying plans to launch the generic version to get a slice of the action in the growing Rs 13,000-crore diabetes therapy.
The cost of therapy will reduce by over 50%, making it easier for millions of diabetics to access the drug. Gliptins, a relatively new class of oral diabetes drugs, have emerged as a highly popular therapy and are considered the future of treatment. The three gliptins in the market - Sitagliptin, Vildagliptin and saxagliptin- are priced at around Rs 45 for a day's therapy, taking the cost of treatment to Rs 16,500 per year.
Industry watchers say most companies, including Zydus Cadila, Glenmark, Mankind Pharma, US Vitamins, Cipla and Abbott, are keen to launch the drug. At least 18 firms were reportedly restrained by Novartis last year in Gujarat alone, from launching the drug before patent expiry.
What makes the patent expiry significant for Indian pharma is that Vildagliptin is the first among the gliptins to get off the block, and also the first (diabetes) medicine whose end-of-patent life will be witnessed by Industry.
Confirming the patent expiry of Vildagliptin in December, a Novartis spokesperson said "We believe there continues to be a huge unmet need in this segment. We are unable to share our plans post patent expiry, as this is competitive information." Most companies whom TOI got in touch with, did not want to disclose their plans.
Vildagliptin has about 25% share of the gliptins market of Rs 3500 crore, even as prescriptions are dominated by low-priced Teneligliptin. In 2015, Teneligliptin disrupted the market with its affordability, and became the first molecule to reach the milestone of touching 100-plus brands in two years.
A similar trend is expected in the case of Vildagliptin, considered a better and safer formulation, with over 20-25 players entering the fray. The price of the drug may settle around Rs 10 for a day's therapy over a period of time, drastically changing the landscape and by bringing in more patients in the advanced gliptin therapy.