The price of diabetes drugs have halved in the past nine months, bringing relief to around millions of diabetics in India.
A new class of medicine — belonging to the gliptin family — has lowered the cost of drugs by 50% in less than a year. Of the 68 million diabetics in India, about 1.85 million are on gliptin therapy to manage their type-2 diabetes.
The price came down from Rs 156 a pack in January to Rs 79 in September, thanks to aggressive pricing by domestic companies.
An average daily price for other diabetes drugs stands at Rs 45 against Rs 5 to Rs 7 for teneligliptin-based drugs, launched last year.
Glenmark launched teneligliptin under the brands Ziten and Zita Plus at a breakthrough price of Rs 19.90 a tablet when most gliptins were priced at around Rs 45.
Today, 30 companies, including Glenmark, Mankind Pharma, Zydus, Eris Life Sciences and Intas, are making about 34 brands of drugs from the teneligliptin molecule.
“While most of the gliptins were imported, teneligliptin is the only gliptin to be manufactured in India ... With the launch of this, the daily cost of treatment for gliptin therapy has come down dramatically,” said Glenn Saldanha, chairman, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals.
According to a conservative estimate, a diabetic on gliptin treatment saves more than Rs 9,000 a year on medicine.
Mankind Pharmaceuticals, the maker of diabetes drug Dynaglipt, expects prices to fall further.
“We are planning to manufacture this molecule (bulk drug) at our new plant, which is set to start in January. We may see further cost benefits that may allow prices to reduce further,” said RC Juneja, the chief executive officer of Mankind Pharma.
Gliptin therapy is safer, with almost negligible side-effects, experts said. The country’s anti-diabetes market is one of the fastest-growing segments, with a growth rate exceeding 25% at Rs 7,638 crore, says data of the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists Association.