Monday, 30th October 2017

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Worry at diabetes drug sales

An analysis of diabetes medicine sales in India has revealed what some doctors say are unwarranted shifts towards new-generation drugs and insulin analogues that might increase treatment costs without significant benefits.

By G.S. Mudur
  • Published 4.11.17
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New Delhi: An analysis of diabetes medicine sales in India has revealed what some doctors say are unwarranted shifts towards new-generation drugs and insulin analogues that might increase treatment costs without significant benefits.

Yearly sales of new-generation oral anti-diabetic medicines increased by 29.8 per cent between December 2008 and December 2016 while those of older medicines grew by 6.3 per cent annually, shows the analysis that used datasets from a pharmaceutical market research organisation.

The annual growth of newer insulins was about 10.9 per cent, compared with 5.5 per cent for older insulins, according to the findings, which are to be published in the journal Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics.

Physicians say the findings suggest an increase in the sales of some high-cost medications that might not provide benefits to all the patients they are prescribed to. They say more doctors need to be made aware that newer and more expensive may not always mean better and more effective.

"This is worrying because the sales figures suggest that the new-generation medications aren't being prescribed as selectively as they could be," Anoop Misra, chairman of the Fortis Centre for Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol, New Delhi, who led the study, told The Telegraph.

Misra said the findings were a concern because India had a vast population of diabetes patients, estimated to be over 60 million, most of whom pay for their own medications in the absence of free drugs.

"We need research to explore whether and how prescriptions for diabetes written by doctors might be influenced by the marketing strategies of drug companies," Misra said.

The study also reveals a 114 per cent rise in insulin sales from Rs 219 crore to Rs 468 crore between December 2012 and 2014, and a further 80 per cent rise to Rs 842 crore by December 2016, although doctors say this could reflect an increase in the number of patients prescribed insulin.

"It's possible that higher awareness is increasing the early detection of patients headed for kidney damage or other complications that require insulin," Misra said.