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Pharma Racing to Develop New Diabetes Drugs

Jul 18, 2006

There are hundreds of drugs and medical devices in the pipeline, hoping to capture part of the Future 350 Billion Dollar Industry. sensitivity, and a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The AP/Boston Globe on Tuesday examined how pharmaceutical companies are "racing to capture the ballooning market in diabetes care," which "could yield billions of dollars" in sales. According to a study released this month by the American Diabetes Association, one in three U.S. residents has diabetes or a precursor to the disease. More than 90% of diabetes patients are diagnosed with type 2, which is linked to obesity, the Globe reports.

The diabetes market is expected to reach $10 billion per year and could eventually rival the $20 billion cholesterol market, according to Albert Rauch, a health care analyst at A.G. Edwards. Merck, which recently announced that one of its ongoing research focuses will be diabetes and obesity, currently is awaiting FDA approval for Januvia, an oral diabetes drug that enhances the body’s ability to lower elevated blood sugar levels. Later this year, the company expects to seek approval for an unnamed drug that combines Januvia with the common diabetes medication metformin, which would reduce the number of pills patients take daily. Analysts predict Januvia sales could reach $1 billion in 2009, the Globe reports.

Pfizer is promoting its diabetes drug Exubera, which is being sold in Germany and Ireland. Officials have not yet announced its U.S. release date, but analysts expect annual sales to reach $1.5 billion by 2010.

Eli Lilly, whose diabetes portfolio already accounts for one-fifth of the company’s revenue, also will focus on the disease, and Novartis’ Galvus is expected to achieve significant profits, according to the Globe. "Whenever there’s a great commercial opportunity, companies devote more resources," Barbara Ryan, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, said (AP/Boston Globe, 7/4).

"Reprinted with permission from http://www.kaisernetwork.org.


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