Lupin joins hands with Boehringer to sell new oral anti-diabetic drugs

MUMBAI (NewsRise) — Lupin has expanded an existing partnership with Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim to sell two new oral anti-diabetic drugs, underscoring the Indian drug maker’s efforts to circumvent competition in its domestic market.

The new oral anti-diabetic drugs were recently approved by the Indian regulator, the companies said in a joint statement on Wednesday. The products — Gibtulio Met and Ajaduo — will be co-marketed simultaneously by Boehringer and Lupin across India under different brand names. The companies didn’t give any financial details.

India is battling an epidemic of diabetes with roughly 73 million patients suffering from the condition, according to the International Diabetes Federation. The country’s diabetes market is valued at 113 billion rupees and is growing at 12% per annum, according to data from IMS. The oral anti-diabetic market alone is valued at 83 billion rupees, expanding at more than 11%, the data showed.

The latest co-licensing deal allows Lupin to cut through the maze of competitive branded generic drugs in India without making heavy investments, while Boehringer rides on its partner’s sales reach to penetrate the domestic market.

Last month, Lupin struck a similar deal with Japanese Nichi-Iko Pharmaceutical to distribute and promote its upcoming biosimilar arthritis treatment Etanercept in Japan. The move marked Lupin’s foray into the fast-growing market for cheaper versions of biotech drugs.

The new tie-up in India comes at a time when Lupin is struggling with shrinking sales and declining margins in the generic drugs business in the U.S. where prices have been falling in the wake of increasing approval for generics. The company is expected to suffer a decline in its April-June profit as it faced stiff competition in sales of generic versions of Fortamet and Glumetza, drugs to treat type 2 diabetes, in the U.S. Lupin’s sales in the world’s largest pharmaceutical market shrank last fiscal year due to the pricing pressure on these drugs.

Lupin was the first to file with U.S. regulators for a generic form of these drugs, which offered six months’ exclusivity in the market and boosted its revenue the year before.

According to Mumbai-based brokerage PhillipCapital, Lupin is likely to report a 6.9% fall in profit to 3.3 billion rupees ($48 million) in the quarter, while revenue is likely to increase 5.7%.

Shares of Lupin lost 1.8% in Mumbai trading on Thursday, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex gained 0.8%.

–Dhanya Ann Thoppil

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