Biocon Ventures into Obesity Medications, Eyeing $100 Billion Market
Biocon Ventures into Obesity Medications, Eyeing $100 Billion Market

Biocon Ltd., based in Bengaluru, is shifting its focus towards developing medications to combat obesity as patents for popular drugs begin to expire. Experts predict that the global market for such drugs could reach $100 billion by 2030.

A significant milestone for Biocon is the recent approval in the UK for its generic version of liraglutide injectible, a weight loss medication. This approval marks the beginning of a lucrative opportunity for companies like Biocon as patents for leading drugs in this category, such as Saxenda, expire. While Saxenda is not as effective as newer medications like Wegovy and Ozempic, its generic version signals the start of a potential windfall for drug manufacturers.

Biocon's CEO, Siddharth Mittal, emphasized the company's commitment to maintaining its lead position in this emerging market. With 15 peptide formulations currently under development, Biocon aims to seek regulatory approval for one or two drugs this year. Additionally, the company has filed applications with US and European regulators for liraglutide.

Led by Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Biocon is at the forefront among Indian drugmakers in the race to capitalize on the growing demand for obesity drugs globally. Other major players in the Indian pharmaceutical industry, including Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., and Cipla Ltd., are also developing their own anti-obesity medications.

The expiration of patents on drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy will allow generic versions to flood the market, presenting an opportunity for companies like Biocon to enter the fray. These drugs, which belong to a class known as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists, have already generated significant profits for innovative pharmaceutical companies.

According to Biocon's Group CEO, Peter Bains, the loss of exclusivity for GLP drugs will create a multibillion-dollar market over the next decade. This opportunity aligns well with Biocon's existing biologics business.

In the UK market, Biocon awaits the launch of its liraglutide injectible once the National Health Services issues a tender. Meanwhile, the company is exploring opportunities to market its obesity drugs in India, where the demand for such medications is expected to rise due to a growing affluent and obese population.

While weight-loss drugs are gaining popularity globally, they have yet to become widely available in India. Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, two major players in this space, are planning to introduce their drugs in India in the coming years. Biocon is also considering options for entering the Indian market, including seeking approval from local regulators and finding a suitable marketing partner.

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