China’s Thirst for New Diabetes Drugs Threatens Bayer’s Lead

With the rate of diabetes skyrocketing in China due to an increasingly high carbohydrate diet and sedentary lifestyle, there is an increased demand among patients for new medications. The leading medications on the market are currently Novo Nordisk’s insulin and Bayer AG’s Glucobay, whose sales increased 22 percent last year. Bloomberg reports:

The new generation of drugs that may relieve sufferers and supplant Glucobay has already begun its march into China.

Merck’s Januvia went on sale last year, and Novo’s Victoza became available in October. Lilly and Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. (AMLN)’s Byetta won approval in 2009. All three work in different ways to prompt the pancreas to make insulin, the hormone that diabetics need to break down the sugar that builds up in their blood stream.

By 2016, newer classes of drugs will be the fastest-growing diabetes medicines in China, estimates Vineet Kashyap, an analyst for IMARC Group in New Delhi. Medicines such as Januvia, Victoza and Byetta are likely to hold 17 percent of the market by then, approaching the one-quarter share estimated for drugs in Glucobay’s class of starch blockers, Kashyap said.

Eventually, new drugs may come from within China. At the diabetes institute of Shanghai Jiao Tong University Affiliated 6th People’s Hospital, dozens of journal publications hang on the wall next to the office of director Weiping Jia, who led the Shanghai portion of the diabetes study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

See also: China’s Annual $26 Billion Diabetes Bill to Skyrocket via CDT.



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