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9 Apr, 2024 14:31

Indian pharma giants pivoting to weight-loss medications – Economic Times

With patents on anti-obesity drugs set to expire, generic manufacturers are rushing to seek approval for their own versions
Indian pharma giants pivoting to weight-loss medications – Economic Times

Indian pharmaceutical giant Biocon, led by billionaire Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, one of the country’s richest self-made women, is aiming to corner the market for anti-obesity drugs as patents on major weight-loss medications are set to expire, the Economic Times reported on Monday.

The Benaguru-based Biocon has already received UK approval for a generic version of a liraglutide injectable which will lose patent protection in November. The medicine is currently sold under the Saxenda brand name by patent holder Novo Nordisk, a Danish multinational pharmaceutical company. A wave of generic drugs appears set to enter the weight-loss market, which is expected to be worth as much as $100 billion by 2030, the Economic Times noted.

“My leadership team and organization is ensuring that we do not give up the lead position we have now,” Biocon Chief Executive Officer Siddharth Mittal told ET. Fifteen peptide formulations are under development, with approval for one or two planned for this year, he added. Biocon has also filed applications with regulators in the US and Europe, the report said.

Other Indian pharma giants, including Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, and Cipla, are also believed to be developing anti-obesity drugs. Patents are soon set to expire on popular weight-loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy, presenting an opportunity for India’s generic drug makers to flood the market.

Novo Nordisk owns the patent on semaglutide, an ingredient used in both Ozempic and Wegovy. Record profits from selling these medications helped the Denmark-based firm become Europe’s most valuable company in September last year, according to Reuters. These drugs are a part of a class of medications such as Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP) receptor agonists, which first gained approval to treat diabetes and obesity earlier in the 2000s.

Biocon’s chief executive officer, Peter Bains, believes the loss of exclusivity for GLPs will create a multibillion-dollar business over the next decade. In March, Biocon said that the market in the UK alone is worth $425 million. India is the largest exporter of generic medicines globally, occupying a 20% share in supplies by volume, according to New Delhi. In the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the South Asian nation exported drugs worth $25.3 billion.

Indian drug makers also see Russia as a big opportunity after Western competitors withdrew from the market in the wake of sanctions against Moscow. India recently replaced Germany as the top supplier of medicines to the country. Its manufacturers ramped up exports by 3% last year, delivering nearly 294 million packages of medicine to Russia.

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