Anti-diabetes drug sans side-effects launched

Life saver

Touted to have no major side-effects of other anti-diabetic pills, the drug is more expensive than the counterparts available in the market. The medicine – saxagliptin (brand name onglyza) – comes to India within nine months of its launch in the US and within three months of its European debut as India is tipped to be the world’s diabetes capital.

Developed and marketed jointly by the US-based and London-based pharmas, the drug in India has been priced at Rs 38 for a single daily 5 mg dose, which according to its makers, is one-fifth of its price in the US market.  Patients need to take one tablet daily either as a single medicine or in combination of other drugs.

It is more expensive than the two common anti-diabetic drugs – metformin and sulphonylurea. Two competitive drugs (Januvia and Galvus) with competitive prices from two rival firms (MSD and Novartis respectively) is already in the market.

“This medicine does not have additional advantage over the other two. All belong to a new class of compound called gliptin,” Anoop Misra, former professor of medicine at the AIIMS here told Deccan Herald.

Pharmaceutical companies have been targeting India with their anti-diabetes drugs because the country has an estimated 51 million people suffering from Type-2 diabetes, a chronic disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. The number is set to rise up to 87 million by 2030.

Saxagliptin will be useful for a patient after five years when managing the Type-2 disease with known medicines becomes difficult. And there may be some minor side effects which according to Misra all medicines have.  

Will the new drug have any adverse impact on the heart?

BMS and Astra are currently conducting a study to look into the issue even as they claimed that there were no early signatures.

In a capsule

* Makers claim the drug does not have the side effects of other anti-diabetic pills

* Priced at Rs 38 for a single daily 5 mg dose, the new drug is more expensive than others

* Critics say the drug is no different to what is already available

* Currently, 51 million people suffer from diabetes in India, making it the world diabetes capital
* Anti-diabetes drug market  in India is estimated to be about Rs 2,000-crore

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