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1-15 June, 2008  
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Home - Market - Article

Company Watch

Merck Sharp and Dohme launches DPP-4 inhibitor in India

Our News Bureau - Mumbai

Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) Pharmaceuticals, the wholly owned subsidiary of Merck, recently launched its once daily, type II diabetes tablet, Januvia (sitagliptin) in India. Sitagliptin is the first in a new class of drugs known as dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors which enhance the body's own ability to lower blood sugar (glucose) when it is elevated. The mechanism of action of DPP-4 inhibitors is distinct from that of any currently available class of glucose-lowering agents.

Diabetes is a growing epidemic that shows no sign of slowing down and is the fifth leading cause of death, globally. Currently more than 194 million people worldwide are suffering from diabetes. India is considered to be the diabetic capital of world, with largest population of diabetic patients, more that 30 million as per WHO estimates in year 2000. Patients with diabetes are at risk of slow and irreversible damage to organs like heart, kidneys and eyes, which accounts for increased morbidity and mortality associated with the disease. Sitagliptin represents the first new class of oral medication for this patient population since 1999. Sitagliptin, already available in around 70 countries, is now going to be available in pharmacies in India on prescription from physicians. Announcing the launch, Dr Naveen Rao, Managing Director, MSD, said, "MSD is focused on bringing to India first and best in class medicines from the global portfolio of MSD at a price that is relevant to Indian patients. This is in line with our commitment towards India and with MSD's philosophy of putting patients first."

Recognising the toll that the diabetes epidemic is taking globally, Merck has committed its research efforts toward diabetes as one of the nine major therapeutic areas of focus to help bring hope to patients and stop this growing pandemic. Rao added, "This launch for sitagliptin marks an important milestone for MSD, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to develop best-in-class targeted and differentiated products for diabetes."

"DPP-4 inhibitors are an important breakthrough. They represent an innovative and different approach to treating type 2 diabetes, a disease that is rapidly increasing in prevalence, and exacting huge costs on a personal and global level. Approximately two out of three adults being treated are not achieving target blood sugar levels, suggesting that current therapies have significant limitations. Sitagliptin is an exciting new option that effectively lowers blood sugar levels. Importantly, the profile of side effects observed with Sitagliptin was as good as placebo. In fact, sitagliptin was well tolerated in large controlled clinical trials," said Dr Nikhil Tandon, Professor of Endocrinology at All India Institute of Medical Science, New Delhi.


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