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Mega diabetes drug to be cheaper soon

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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 is expected to reduce by over 50%.

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.

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