According to AMA, diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic disorders symptomated by hyperglycemia. It is caused due to irregularities in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. The chronic hyperglycemia leads to long term damage, dysfunction and even failure of different organs, such as eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and blood vessels. Though not the only reason, obesity epidemic is the main driving forces behind the increasing prevalence of Type 2 diabetes (T2D). Adiposity worsens the metabolic and physiological abnormalities associated with T2D. In T2D pancreas makes less insulin and body cannot use it properly so blood sugar rises. Fat people need 2-3 times more insulin. When pancreas works beyond capacity, insulin producing cells start dying.
Steps such as eating a diet high in fresh, nutritious, foods, avoiding high sugar foods, staying away from alcohol, regular exercise, reduction in weight, etc are some of the non-medicinal steps that should be undertaken by a patient. Yet, people with type-1 diabetes (T1D) and some people with T2D may need to be on medication, including insulin. T1D also known as juvenile diabetes, occurs when the body fails to produce insulin. Such people are insulin dependent, that is they must take artificial insulin daily to stay alive.
Ironically speaking, India has a huge population of diabetes. 72 million Indian adults suffer from the disease. Naturally, medicines to treat diabetes have been growing at 14.17%. The size of the diabetes treatment market in India is Rs. 15,000 crore. However, India is a very price sensitive market, largely due to low per capita income. Hence, low priced drugs always do well here.
Recently, a price war is brewing in Indias swelling diabetes drug market. An Indian company, with Japanese collaboration, has launched an anti-diabetic drug at half the rate of rival offerings. This drug, under a class of drug called SGLT2 (sodium glucose transporter 2), provides glycemic corbels, includes weight loss and reduces cardiovascular risk. Incidently SGLT2 drugs are the fastest growing category. At less that $11 a month, the treatment is ultra cheap. The same company has introduced a heavily discounted treatment, with a new class of drugs, called DPPA, for T2D. All this will affect adversely the traditional drugs such as metformin and sulphonylureas.
To be sure, however in India there are two categories of patients. One that goes to specialists and premium doctors. They dont mind expensive treatment, perhaps under the illusion that pricier means greater efficacy. The category is not insignificant. Even, physicians tend to believe that low priced drugs could be of poor quality.
When the drug is not patented, the cost of the therapy could be as low Rs. 3 per day. Those who cannot afford expensive treatments, due to their low incomes and purchasing power opt for such treatments. The strategy here should be to go big on volumes (low price, high volume strategy).
Thus, if you market yourself well, you could follow either route. The market is large enough for higher priced and cheaper counterparts to thrive together. Especially, when people find it difficult to control the diseases through lifestyle modifications.
Contributed by: K.K. Srivastava
KKS is an academic, author, writer, researcher, and corporate speaker. He writes regularly on Economics, Management, Technology, and others areas.