“Cipla historically has always been a big respiratory and acute player but not that big in the diabetes area,” said Umang Vohra, managing director and global CEO of Cipla in an interview to ET.
“Five years back, we decided that we are going to start making a big foray into cardiovascular first, followed by diabetes. And so, when we began to approach these segments, (we found) there are well entrenched players,” Vohra added.
With 7.7 crore Indian adults (20-79 years) with diabetes in 2021, and 4 crore undiagnosed, the segment is expected to grow faster as more people age and adopt more sedentary lifestyles.The market size of anti-diabetes segment is worth Rs 16,704 crore for the year ended April 2023.
On the strategy to crack anti-diabetes Vohra said “It’ll have to be a good portfolio because, you can’t bring a portfolio option, which is the same as 50 others selling. The second decision was to invest in the salesforce expansion. And the third is that we would pursue big brands.”
Cipla went after signing licensing pacts for patented products, distribution agreements with MNCs and acquisitions. It is also adding more people, and reorienting its sales pitch.
“We’ve spent a good amount of investment behind these teams. And the teams are really different, they weren’t regular acute therapy selling teams. So they have different profiles because if they are selling multinational products that need to have people who understand the science,” Vohra said.Cipla last month has signed a perpetual license agreement with Novartis for Galvus and its combination brands, which, as per IQVIA, had reported sales of nearly Rs 270 crores in FY23. The Galvus deal will help Cipla climb six ranks from 14th to 8th in anti-diabetic.
This isn’t first the one, in October 2021, Cipla signed strategic partnership with Eli Lilly to Humalog (insulin lispro) and Trulicity (dulaglutide), and prior to that in June 2020 Cipla has forged partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim to co-market three oral anti-diabetic formulations of empagliflozin (SGLT2 inhibitor class).
All those efforts have slowly but steadily paying-off for Cipla, the company has grown 9% above the market growth of 6.8% in the anti-diabetes segment.
Vohra says that at least in metro and tier-1 cities there is a trend where people are moving up the therapy ladder, which means that if somebody is taking, a diabetes drug, which was an oral they’re now migrating to more expensive latest generation medications that work for obesity, treatment of heart and kidney failures.