Diabetes is pharma’s fastest-growing market

Diabetes is the pharmaceutical industry’s fastest-growing market, and the costs of preventing and treating the condition worldwide are forecast to rise from $376 billion in 2010 to $490 billion by 2030, according to new research.  285 million people, or 6.4% of the world’s adult population, are currently estimated to be living with diabetes, and this figure is set to explode to 438 million (7.8% of the global adult population) by 2030, Frost & Sullivan has reported.

The world’s biggest diabetes populations are in India, where 50.8 million live with the condition, and China, where 43.2 million people have the condition. 70% of cases are currently found in low- and middle-income countries, with prevalence ranging from 10.2% in the western Pacific to 3.8% in the African region, according to K Srinivas Sashidar, research analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

As well as the significant global burden of treating and preventing diabetes, the condition imposes a number of economic burdens, including lost productivity and foregone economic growth.  The 40-59 age group is currently most affected by diabetes, but by 2030 this dominance is expected to shift to 60-79-year-olds. An increase in the number of patients with the type 2 form of the disease, plus the emergence of a number of potential new drug treatments, is expected to raise competition in the marketplace, according to the report.

The main segments of the market are insulin and oral anti-diabetes treatments. While metformin remains the first line of choice among the latter segment, new forms of co-therapies, glucagon-like peptide (GLP) agonists, dipeptidyl peptidase (DPP)-IV inhibitors and sodium-dependent glucose (co) transporter (SGLT) inhibitors are expected to become strong competitors in the near future.

The first drug from the GLP-1 pathway to receive European Commission approval was Eli Lilly/Amylin’s Byetta (exenatide), while Novo Nordisk’s Victoza (liraglutide) is the first GLP-1 analogue with 97% similarity to natural gut hormone. Various longer-acting formulations of GLP-1 analogues are now under development.

Currently-available DPP-IV inhibitors include Merck & Co’s Januvia (sitagliptin), Bristol-Myers Squibb/AstraZeneca’s Onglyza (saxagliptin) and Novartis’ Galvus (vildagliptin), and others are in development.  Also, numbers of SDLT2 inhibitors and glucokinase activators –  new classes of investigational drugs for the treatment of type 2 diabetes – are currently in clinical testing, says the study.

Turning to the insulin market, which is dominated by modern insulins and analogues, Mr Sashidar says he expects effective insulin analogues and long-acting insulins to raise their market share in future, with competition likely to increase with the introduction of biosimilars.



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