It is billed as an oral medication that is not only designed to help diabetic patients manage the disease, but may also offer other benefits such as weight loss and reduced heart risk. Novo Nordisk, headquartered in Denmark and a leader in the diabetes market, plans to launch this oral GLP-1 drug in India by February 2022. Previously available as a variety of drug molecules with proven benefits beyond diabetes control, all were only available as injections. The oral drug is seen as a breakthrough technology that could transform the approach and acceptance of the drug for patients in India, which today has the dubious accolade of being the diabetes capital of the world. GLP-1 stands for Glucagon-Like Peptide Receptor Protein, a non-insulin treatment approach.
Vikrant Shrotriya, Vice President and General Manager of Novo Nordisk India, told Financial Express Online: “In India, which has a high diabetes population worldwide with approximately 77 million diabetes patients in the country, this drug in tablet form is becoming much more acceptable and could improve compliance. “The product he has has strong blood sugar control and added weight loss support benefits. “While most of the leading physicians are talking about its benefits, they believe that drug pricing will be critical if there is to be greater patient use and compliance. Even the injections available today are expensive, costing at least a few thousand or around Rs 5,000 per month at least in most cases, which for a lifelong drug could prove to be expensive for many. Shrotriya did not specify the price at which the oral drug was expected to be available, although apparently he indicated that the company was aware of the importance of pricing.
And then the attitude towards it is likely to be watched closely. Experts in the field who have studied various diseases and drugs and their long-term effects see the drug as a welcome addition to the drugs available for diabetic patients, but the focus on pricing could prove crucial. Dr. Manoj Chadha, Consultative Endocrinologist, PD Hinduja Hospital & Medical Research Center in Mumbai and founder of Hope & Care, the endocrine center that he and his wife Dr. Alka Chadha, founded in Navi Mumbai, refers to some studies from abroad that appear interesting from the point of view of efficacy, safety and cardiovascular protection or the investigated long-term effects of the drug on the kidneys and heart. Attempts are currently being made to obtain Indian data on the safety aspects of the cardiovascular system. Regarding pricing, however, he warns that “we still do not know the price of the oral medicine. Obviously, if the cost is made affordable, many people can ingest it and there could be widespread use of the drug. “
Dr. V Mohan, Co-Founder of the Diabetes Specialties Center by Dr. Mohan, a leading chain of diabetes centers headquartered in Chennai in the country also points out the benefits of what he calls: “New class of compounds called GLP1 receptor analogs that act through the gut rather than just stimulate insulin secretion from the pancreas , but also suppress glucagon hormone, which increases the level of glucose (or sugar) in the blood. Weight reduction is one of the other benefits. “
While the drug’s launch is eagerly anticipated, it does not appear to be the only focus for Novo Nordisk, which the company says is keen to expand its general presence in India, according to Vikrant Shrotriya of the company. In one year, for example, he sees that the company has “made some product launches in diabetes, hemophilia (factor 13 roll-out), built a stronger footprint in clinical trials, and entered research and development in India (with more than 2500 patients and 200 Clinical Trial Centers in India). Novo Nordisk has “a value of insulin market share of nearly 57 percent in India and insulin accounts for about 80 percent of Novo Nordisk’s business in India.” Globally, the insulin contribution to the Novo Nordisk business is also significant, accounting for 44 percent of total business.
This is perhaps significant when you consider that India’s share of diabetes is still small from a revenue perspective for the roughly $ 20 billion giant of “between $ 200 million and $ 300 million”. In a virtual meeting with journalists from around the world from Novo Nordisk, President and Chief Executive Officer Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, who answers a question from Financial Express Online, India becomes an important country not only for medicines but also for its business in Novo Nordisk and operations with over 4,000 employees in India and a global business services business in India that kept the light on despite challenges from pandemic lockdowns.
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