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Lupin diabetes drug price up by 200% in US

The move comes amid renewed demand for price caps in the US

Aneesh Phadnis  |  Mumbai 

Lupin raises diabetes drug price by 200%

Lupin has raised the price of its anti-diabetes drug in the US market by 200 per cent. The move could increase its product revenue to around $100 million, say analysts. Lupin sells a generic version of Fortamet (Metformin Hydrochloride) and competes with Valeant’s Glumetza tablets in that market.

This is in the backdrop of the controversial 55-fold price increase by Turing Pharmaceuticals for its Daraprim tablets, used for treating parasitic infection.

The rise led to furore and a renewed call for price caps in the US. Turing was forced to announce a rollback in the rise, after raising it from $13.50 to $750 a pill.

Unlike India, the US is a free market for pharmaceutical pricing and there is no restriction or cap on prices of either generic products or new medicines. However, last October, the US legislature had initiated an inquiry against 14 companies for ‘abnormal’ price rises. These included three from India — Sun Pharmaceutical, Dr Reddy’s and Cadila Healthcare.

Lupin did not respond to an e-mail query. However, sector analysts said its diabetes drug was still priced lower than Valeant’s, which recently saw a 500 per cent rise in price.

“Lupin’s price hike has come after a huge price increase in competing product Glumetza. After the hike, Fortamet is still 75 per cent cheaper,” said Sarabjit Kour Nangra, vice-president at Angel Broking, in a note to investors. She estimates Lupin’s sales from the product at around $43 million and with the rise, it should earn $70-80 mn.

Surajit Pal, analyst with brokerage Prabhudas Lilladher, estimates the price rise could double the sales of this diabetes drug to $100 mn.

Lupin has been selling the generic version of Fortamet in the US market since 2011. Japanese drug maker Shionogi had secured an injunction against the sale but Lupin resumed it in April 2012, after an appeals court stayed the injunction order. Lupin has also secured the right to sell the generic version of Glumetza from February 2016, following a settlement with Santarus Inc in 2012. The diabetes drug was sold by Santarus to Salix Pharmaceuticals in 2013.

Salix itself was acquired by Valeant Pharmaceuticals earlier this year.

First Published: Fri, September 25 2015. 00:30 IST