Updated February 22nd, 2024 at 17:11 IST

Indian pharma firms create alternatives to Wegovy to tap into lucrative weight-loss market

Eli Lilly, a US competitor, has similarly struggled to meet the demand for its weight-loss drugs, Zepbound and Mounjaro.

Reported by: Business Desk
Medicine | Image:Unsplash
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Pharmaceutical companies in focus: Pharmaceutical companies in India are seizing the opportunity presented by the lucrative weight-loss treatment market, both domestically and internationally. 

In response to the soaring demand for Novo Nordisk's highly sought-after Wegovy, several major players in the Indian generic drug industry, including Sun Pharma, Cipla, Dr Reddy's, and Lupin, have initiated the development of their own versions of the drug.

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With projections suggesting that the weight-loss treatment market could exceed $100 billion annually by the end of the decade, companies are eager to capitalise on this trend. 

Novo Nordisk has faced challenges in meeting the demand for Wegovy in numerous countries where it has been launched, reflecting the global surge in obesity rates and the quest for alternative weight-loss solutions beyond traditional methods like diet and exercise. 

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Eli Lilly, a US competitor, has similarly struggled to meet the demand for its weight-loss drugs, Zepbound and Mounjaro.

Novo Nordisk has indicated its intention to introduce Wegovy to the Indian market by 2026, although a global rollout timeline remains uncertain. 

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The entry of Indian generic drug manufacturers into the weight-loss drug market could boost global access to these medications, making them more affordable for consumers worldwide.

Analysts anticipate substantial growth in demand for these drugs, particularly as Novo Nordisk's patents for Wegovy are set to expire in various markets in the coming years. India, with its major obesity rates and a high prevalence of type 2 diabetes, presents a promising market for these medications. 

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Novo Nordisk's patents for semaglutide, the active ingredient in Wegovy, are set to expire at different times across different regions.

While some Indian companies are developing drugs similar to Wegovy as generics, others like Sun Pharma are focusing on creating their own innovative treatments, necessitating clinical trials and potentially leading to patented drugs.

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Despite the immense potential in the Indian pharmaceutical market, companies face challenges in navigating its price-sensitive landscape and building demand for anti-obesity drugs.

Clinical trials have shown promising results for drugs like Wegovy and those developed by Eli Lilly, with participants experiencing major weight loss. These drugs, classified as GLP-1 receptor agonists originally intended for managing blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients, also offer benefits such as delaying the progression of chronic kidney disease and reducing the risk of heart disease.

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Pharmaceutical companies in India are set to play a major role in the evolving landscape of weight-loss treatments, contributing to increased accessibility and affordability for patients globally.

(With Reuters Inputs)

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Published February 22nd, 2024 at 11:39 IST