Merck Sharp and Dohme launches DPP-4 inhibitor in India
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
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
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.