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Lupin plans to bring new class of diabetes drug to India

LiveMint logoLiveMint 11-09-2017 Isha Trivedi

Mumbai: Lupin Ltd, India’s second largest pharmaceutical company, is looking to enhance its diabetes drugs offering in the domestic market by bringing in a new class of drugs through the in-licensing route, a senior company official said.

Under in-licensing, a company gets a licence to market a product of another company in one or more geographies.

Lupin’s current diabetes products’ basket includes different classes of drugs such as oral hypoglycemic agents (OHAs), insulins and novel drugs like sodium glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT-2) inhibitor drug empagliflozin, and Dipeptidylpeptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitor drug linagliptin.

“When it comes to diabetes, we have a complete range of products. One thing, we are missing is GLP 1 analog, which we are looking to bring into our portfolio,” Rajeev Sibal, president, India Region Formulations, Lupin, told Mint.

GLP 1 or glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist helps normalise blood sugar levels.

In India, GLP 1 class of drugs is sold by Novo Nordisk, Eli Lily and Co. and Sanofi, in injectable form.

According to data from healthcare information provider QuintilesIMS, Novo Nordisk sells its drug through partner Abbott India under brand name Victoza, Eli Lily under the brand Trulicity, and Sanofi under the brand Lyxumia. The prices of these injections are in the range of Rs3,100 to Rs4,000.

In the area of diabetes, Lupin has had in-licensing deals with US-based Eli Lilly and German company Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH over the last two-three years to bring in new classes of drugs to the Indian market.

The overall market size of diabetes drugs in India is Rs10,534 crore, according to QuintilesIMS data, and Lupin has a market share of 4.24%. While the domestic diabetes market witnessed 17% growth in the year ended July, the company’s diabetes drugs portfolio posted growth of 36%, Sibal said.

Sibal expects the company’s growth rate in domestic market to remain higher than the average industry growth in the next few years and said in-licensing of drugs will be a key part of its India business strategy.

“Lupin has been one of the most successful companies when alliances are concerned. We have almost 15 alliances, which has helped us grow in the chronic segment,” he said.

“In-licensing strategy pursued by Lupin has clearly helped the company accelerate its growth trajectory in the domestic market. These (in-licensed) drugs usually fetch much higher prices than branded generics and profits are shared by the companies involved in the licensing deal,” Vishal Manchanda, analyst at Nirmal Bang Securities, said.

Over the last five years, the company’s domestic business has grown at a compounded annual growth rate of 15%, which is higher than the average industry growth of 12%.

“Indian companies are actively looking at in-licensing opportunities to push growth and Lupin is no exception. This is because the industry growth rate of over 15% that was seen in domestic market earlier has been slowing due to price restrictions of government, rising competition and limited new product launches,” Surajit Pal, analyst at Prabhudas Lilladher, said.

India is the second-biggest market for Lupin contributing 22% to its total revenue. In financial year 2016-17, India business revenue rose 11% year-on-year to Rs3,815.7 crore.

“If you see our track record, we have grown higher than the market and we will continue to do so going forward because we are strongly placed as far as our product portfolio is concerned,” Sibal said.

The company has strong presence in chronic therapy segment, which includes drugs for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and respiratory ailments. Drugs for chronic diseases account for 56% of Lupin’s portfolio.

The company is at number 2 position in the country in cardiology and respiratory segment and at number 6 in the diabetes segment. Lupin will focus on consolidating its position in the chronic drugs segment and expanding to therapeutic areas of gynaecology, dermatology, neurology and oncology, Sibal said.

“Last year we expanded our field force by 1,500 people and majority was in chronic segment, mainly cardiology and respiratory. We are looking at other areas too where we want to launch differentiated products and are also exploring in-licensing opportunities,” he said.

Lupin’s on-field force or the number of medical representatives is currently 5,400. It is the sixth largest pharma company in terms of its presence in the domestic market. In the acute therapy area, Lupin is the market leader in anti-tuberculosis drugs.

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