Diabetes market to see rapid growth, says Datamonitor


But one of the main growth drivers of type 2 diabetes drugs will not be addressed on a large scale.

The market for diabetes drugs will be worth US$37bn by 2018, up from US$20bn in 2008, according to Datamonitor.

This rapid growth will provide significant opportunities for pharmaceutical companies who are able to develop new therapies to address type 2 diabetes. By contrast, the business analyst, in its Cardiovascular and Metabolic Market Overview, expects opportunities in the obesity market to be limited.

"Safety scares, such as that with Avandia (rosgiltazone; GlaxoSmithKline) in 2007, coupled with re-evaluation of known side-effects and the risk of hypoglycemia associated with sulfonylurea use have all combined to highlight the need for new therapies with clean side-effect profiles for type 2 diabetes," said Nick Karachalias, lead healthcare analyst at Datamonitor.

Drugs targeting the incretin system are set to be the big new mechanism and dipeptidyl peptidase-IV (DPP-IV) inhibitors are likely to account for the largest percentage of the growing market. Glucagon-like-1 (GLP-1) agonists will have a smaller but still significant impact on the diabetes market than DPP-IV inhibitors, the report reveals.

Januvia (sitagliptin; Merck & Co) will continue to be the market leader.

"With the additional revenues from the existing fixed dose combination, Janumet (sitagliptin + metformin) and anticipated success of the fixed dose combination of sitagliptin + pioglitazone, which is currently in Phase III development, we expect the franchise to generate US$6bn by 2018 in the seven major markets," added Karachalias.

While type 2 diabetes is regarded as a legitimate condition, which can be treated by drugs, obesity is still viewed by GPs as being the result of lifestyle choices and should therefore be managed through diet and exercise.

"Despite obesity being a large driver for the type 2 diabetes market growth, our research only forecasts the value of this sector to reach US$600m by 2018. The sector continues to be plagued by low efficacy, significant side-effect profiles and lack of reimbursement by healthcare providers," said Karachalias.

The two leading drugs, Acomplia (rimonabant; Sanofi-Aventis) and Reductil (sibutramine; Abbott), have both been taken out of the European markets due to side-effects. Acomplia has not received regulatory approval in the US.

Segmentation of the obesity market could offer a profitable niche for the right candidate, but considerably greater efficacy must be shown than that displayed by the current pipeline, says Datamonitor.

"There is a certain irony that obesity, as one of the main drivers for the type 2 diabetes pharmaceutical market growth, is not going to be addressed on a large scale by the pharmaceutical market. The dieting and personal fitness industries are just too big," added Karachalias.