Datamonitor projects diabetes drug market to reach $37 billion by 2018

MELBOURNE, Australia The market for diabetes drugs will be worth $37 billion by 2018, up from $20 billion in 2008, according to a new forecast by British market research firm Datamonitor.

The firm said that while this presented “significant” opportunities for pharmaceutical companies that can develop new therapies to address unmet needs of Type 2 diabetes patients, much of the growth will take place among such DPP-IV inhibitors as Merck & Co.’s Januvia (sitagliptin). The effect of GLP-1 agonists, such as Novo Nordisk’s Victoza (liraglutide), will be smaller, but still significant, according to the analysis.

But while Type 2 diabetes is generally viewed as a disease, many physicians continue to view obesity as the result of lifestyle choices despite its role in diabetes, according to the report.

“Despite obesity being a large driver for the Type 2 diabetes market growth, our research only forecasts the value of this sector to reach $600 million by 2018,” Datamonitor analyst Nick Karachalias said in a statement. “The sector continues to be plagued by low efficacy, significant side effect profiles and lack of reimbursement by healthcare providers.”

Some obesity drugs have had difficulty taking off, such as Abbott’s Reductil (sibutramine) and Sanofi-Aventis’ Acomplia (rimonabant), both pulled from the shelves in Europe amid concerns over side effects, with Acomplia never having won U.S. regulatory approval.

Nevertheless, some obesity drugs have also made inroads. The Food and Drug Administration recently accepted a regulatory approval application from drug maker VIVUS for the obesity drug Qnexa (phentermine and topiramate), and a Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers database lists 30 obesity drugs, including Qnexa, in various stages of clinical development or under consideration by the FDA.

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