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New oral diabetes and obesity drug sale doubles in India amid demand surge

The sales of Novo Nordisk's Rybelsus tablet, used for diabetes treatment and weight reduction, more than doubled to Rs 363 crore this year from Rs 147 crore last year

Representational image (Source/Unsplash)

Representational image (Source/Unsplash)

Abhijeet Kumar New Delhi

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Novo Nordisk's oral semaglutide tablet, known as Rybelsus, approved for treating diabetes and weight reduction, is surging in popularity in India, The Economic Times reported.

According to data from market researcher Pharmarack, sales of Rybelsus have more than doubled in the past year, reaching Rs 363 crore in April as compared to Rs 147 crore a year earlier.

Rybelsus, introduced in India in 2022 as an oral drug, is hailed as a breakthrough in Type 2 diabetes treatment. It is available in three strengths (3, 7, and 14 mg), and the monthly cost comes to approximately Rs 10,000.

Surging market for anti-obesity drugs

However, its anti-obesity properties has led to its soaring popularity among Indians who wish to shed the extra pounds without sweating it out. Since its introduction, India has witnessed a surge in sales of anti-obesity medications, with the market tripling in two years, bouncing back from previous sluggish growth till 2021, according to Pharmarack.

"The anti-obesity market has itself tripled because of Rybelsus," ET quoted Sheetal Sapale, vice president of Commercial at Pharmarack, as saying. 

Sales of Novo Nordisk's drug increased from Rs 24 crore in April 2022 to Rs 147 crore in April 2023 and further to Rs 363 crore in April this year. The anti-obesity drug market has expanded at a compound annual growth rate of 32 per cent over the last five years to Rs 474 crore in January this year, the ET report claimed.

Pharmarack data revealed that Semaglutide holds approximately 66 per cent of the value market share in the anti-obesity segment, followed by Dapagliflozin, another medication for Type 2 diabetes. Sapale anticipates sustained sales growth for Semaglutide in India, given the high prevalence of obesity, ET said.

Currently, the overweight prevalence rate in India stands at close to 22 per cent for males, 23 per cent for females, and nearly 11 per cent for children. Sapale highlighted, "One in four adults in India is categorised as overweight, with almost 5 per cent falling into the morbidly obese category. These statistics reflect India's evolving disease patterns as it progresses towards becoming a global power."

What are the dangers of overuse of anti-obesity drugs?

Medical experts have highlighted that overuse of anti-obesity drugs can increase the risk of cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes, as seen with drugs like sibutramine and fenfluramine. Meanwhile, some medications can cause mental disturbances, leading to issues like insomnia, restlessness, and nervousness.

Therefore, medical professionals have highlighted that it is crucial to follow medical advice, adhere to prescribed dosages, and be aware of the potential risks associated with overusing anti-obesity oral drugs to ensure safe and effective weight management.

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First Published: May 09 2024 | 10:30 AM IST

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