Novartis Patent On Diabetes Drug Vildagliptin Expires Tomorrow

The domestic pharmaceutical market is set to witness an interesting development tomorrow, as one of the most widely prescribed diabetes drugs, Vildagliptin, would see its price fall by as much as 50-60 percent, according to industry experts. The reason for the steep fall in price is because Novartis’ patent on Vildagliptin is expiring on December 9, 2019, and companies can sell the generic version of the drug, come tomorrow.

Vildagliptin is a part of a class of diabetes medications called dipeptidyl peptidase IV or DPP4 inhibitors. According to industry experts, the size of the domestic DPP4 market is around  Rs 3,600 crore. The DPP4 market currently consists of ‘gliptin’ drugs. The dominant drugs in the DPP4 market are Sitagliptin, Vildagliptin, Teneligliptin and Linagliptin.

According to pharma companies that have looked closely at the market, Sitagliptin is currently the No 1 ‘gliptin’ drug in value terms with a market size of around Rs 1200-1300 crore. However, Vildagliptin, despite higher prices, has grown to become the second largest in value terms with a market share of around 25 percent of the DPP4 market worth around Rs 850-900 crore. Vildagliptin is followed by Linagliptin with a market size of around Rs 600 crore and Tenagliptin with a market size of Rs 800 crore.

Currently, Novartis sells Vildagliptin under its own brand name called Galvus and has licensed the drug to companies such as Abbott, USV and Cipla. Abbott sells the drug under the brand name Zomelis, USV under Jalra and Cipla under the name Vysov. The brands are available in the form of a 50 mg Vildagliptin drug and in a combination with Metformin.

More manufacturers set to enter the market 

Once the drug goes off patent tomorrow, up to 10-15 players are expected to enter the market, and this would eventually peak to some 50 companies selling the drug. The pricing will be watched most closely with industry watchers expecting prices to fall by 50-60 percent. Currently, the price of each tablet of Vildagliptin ranges between Rs 20 to Rs 28, which is expected to fall to Rs 8 to Rs 14 per tablet. Similarly, 14 tablets of Zomelis is currently sold for Rs 360 and Zomelis Met (combination with Metformin) at Rs 426. Competition is expected to help slash the prices for patients to as much as Rs 150 per strip, according to pharma companies.

Whilst the market is expected to see a steep reduction in prices, experts say there is still opportunity. This is evident in recent deal buzz in the Vildagliptin market. Last week, Eris Lifesciences bought the Zomelis brand from Novartis which was licensed to Abbott for $13m. Reports indicate that pharma firm USV is looking to buy the Jalra brand from Novartis for more than Rs 200 crore. Cipla too, according to sources, is looking at options on how to secure their licensing agreement with Novartis. The primary reason, according to experts, is because companies believe they will have a strong and recognised brand in albeit a genericised but rapidly growing market.-CNBC TV18

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