FE Exclusive | Therapies like once-a-week insulin, obesity-specific treatments to be launched in India soon: Vikrant Shrotriya, MD, Novo Nordisk India | The Financial Express

FE Exclusive | Therapies like once-a-week insulin, obesity-specific treatments to be launched in India soon: Vikrant Shrotriya, MD, Novo Nordisk India

Recently, global pharma major, Novo Nordisk, launched a campaign highlighting the relationship between diabetes and obesity.

FE Exclusive | Therapies like once-a-week insulin, obesity-specific treatments to be launched in India soon: Vikrant Shrotriya, MD, Novo Nordisk India
Vikrant Shrotriya, Corporate Vice President and Managing Director, Novo Nordisk India. (FE.com)

With over 77 million diabetic patients, India is often known as the ‘Diabetes Capital of the World.’ Health experts have emphasised that diabetes is a rapidly growing health challenge and potential epidemic across low-and-middle-income countries like India.

Recently, global pharma major, Novo Nordisk, launched a campaign highlighting the relationship between diabetes and obesity in India.

The company’s portfolio includes treatment areas for diseases like diabetes and other serious chronic diseases such as obesity and rare blood and endocrine disorders. The global pharma major is operational in India through its India affiliate and its Global Business Services office for more than 25 years.

Financial Express.com got the opportunity to talk to Vikrant Shrotriya, Corporate Vice President and Managing Director, Novo Nordisk India and he highlighted various aspects related to diabetes and its prevalence in India. Excerpts:

How India’s diabetic treatment and management has advanced over the years? What has been the role of Novo Nordisk?

The treatment of overall Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) started with insulin and many types of better insulin came. But along with that some of the interventions which have come in the tablet formations I think they have been also excellent like SGLT2 and DPP4. Recently, we have launched the oral form of Semaglutide and it is also one of the latest innovations to treat diabetes and along with that a reduction in weight. These are the basic innovations. If you really look at the last 10 years or last 100 years there have been 10 major breakthroughs in Diabetes. So, I would say one every 10 years…also research is also quite intensive in terms of time and money. So, we cannot expect new innovations to come every next second year. It takes 4-5 years to come out with a good molecule. Our strive is that from this molecule we move to the next level of molecule which probably gives much better control.

As you mentioned Semaglutide, what are your focal markets other than India? What has been its influence in the Indian market? What are expectations?

India is at the epicentre of Novo Nordisk’s business strategy. We have a dubious distinction of…almost like a diabetes capital of the world and as there are so many people with diabetes in India, it becomes extremely important that we remain committed to the core cause and remain true to the purpose when it comes to overall diabetes treatment. In terms of outlook, what we have decided in India is to come what may…whatever innovations come from the labs of Novo Nordisk should also come to India. By providing that what we do is, we try to exist with the conventional products which are available there…which many of the people can really afford but we also try to bring the innovative products. So, people who desire and can afford the best can at least have those molecules.

In July this year, Sitagliptin lost its patent. In the next 1-2 years, a few more anti-diabetic drugs will lose patents. How do you see this development? Do you think this can make diabetic care more affordable?

After the patent loss, when biosimilars or generics come, they, of course, bring competitiveness of pricing, and when the pricing comes down the affordability and eventually accessibility increase. So, there is nothing new in it. I think that happens with any molecule which goes out of patent. On the other side, there is always a place for innovation and it is not cheap. So, when the innovation comes, it gets its patent time and till that time, of course, the drug could be a little more expensive than generics.

You talked a lot about Semaglutide today. What makes it different from the existing anti-diabetic drug? What role can it play in the type of diabetes that is prevalent in India?

The basic difference between Semaglutide and other molecules is that it targets both diabetes and weight. Most of medicines will give you glycemic control but may not give you weight control. This is one drug that takes the central focus on controlling diabetes but also on the other side managing obesity. As you heard from Dr. Mithal that many of the anti-diabetic drugs will actually increase weight. This is where the dilemma of the risk-benefit profile comes in. But with this drug when weight and diabetes are taken care of…can you imagine a drug that reduces Hemoglobin A1C (HBA1C) to the tune of 1.5% almost as potent as insulin…the fear of hypoglycemia is virtually not there. So, having these three benefits makes it a wonderful drug for many diabetic patients.

Novo Nordisk is a major global player in the diabetes segment and it is also giving tough competition to Eli Lilly which is another global player in this segment. Therapy portfolio-wise, how this competition can be beneficial to India?

I think the competition is very good. On the other side, I would say, Eli Lilly is a very respected organisation and they also come out with some really good molecules which make a difference. We both co-exist in the market to make a difference. I think their purpose is also very well-defined. But we see ourselves as very focused on protein chemistry. So, all our molecules if you see…our insulin, our factors of hemophilia, or our growth hormones and even semaglutide…our organisation is basically based on protein-based chemistry. So, we feel we have got very robust protein chemistry in our hands through which we launch advanced treatments and therapies, reasonably fast and our quality standards are also very high. Eli Lilly’s standard of products is also very high. We both co-exist. But there are various other factors like in India or many other markets which determine who gets a larger share.

Other than Semaglutide what more products and therapies can we expect in the India market with respect to diabetes or other diseases?

Along with this, we are looking forward to…can you imagine having once-a-week insulin? So, we are already in the Phase-3 trial with Insulin icodec and we are looking forward to its launch which is once-a-week insulin. We are also working on… obesity-specific treatments and may launch them in the future. As you heard, obesity alone without diabetes is a big problem. So, we want this product is also available in India soon. These two products are something which we can see in India in the next 2-3 years.

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First published on: 07-12-2022 at 14:15 IST