Multinational pharma company Sanofi along with its Indian arm Shantha Biotechnics is entering the Rs1,000 crore local diabetes drug market with plans to produce and market insulin.
“It will take a year or two for Sanofi-Shantha combine to start producing insulin. The proposal is still at an early stage. We have an expanded the capacity at Shantha for handling insulin production. There is a stringent process of getting the unit approved and also carrying out various trials of the product,” KI Varaprasad Reddy, Shantha’s chairman, said.
He said once the plan to start producing insulin takes a form, the price of the product would come down 5-10%.
“Diabetes is a major issue in India and there is a need to make the treatment more accessible and affordable,” he said.
Shantha is known for taking the MNC vaccine companies head-on by producing and marketing vaccines at a lesser price. It had hit headlines by launching a dose of Hepatitis B vaccine at about Rs70 compared to Rs300 by the MNCs. However, for insulin, Reddy said, the drop would not be so steep.
“Our insulin production would not trigger a steep fall in prices. The case of Hepatitis B was different. There were no domestic producers of the vaccine that time and the MNCs had a free run,” he said.
Sanofi has also unveiled a made-in-India insulin pen for diabetics.
“Sanofi had decided to manufacture a pen that suits the Indian requirements. This pen to be sold under the brand Allstar is designed and manufactured in India,” Cyrus Aibara, senior director - diabetes business unit of Sanofi, said.