Biocon Ventures into Weight-Loss Drug Market with Semaglutide Development

▴ Weight-Loss Drug Market with Semaglutide Development
Biocon's foray into the weight-loss drug market aligns with its significant investment in generics research and development, with a notable focus on peptides including those for weight-loss treatments.

Biocon, a prominent Indian drugmaker, is poised to enter the growing weight-loss drug market by developing its version of Novo Nordisk's highly successful Wegovy, with plans for clinical trials as early as next year if required. The move reflects Biocon's strategic positioning to tap into the anticipated growth of the obesity treatment market, projected to exceed $100 billion by the end of this decade.

CEO Siddharth Mittal emphasized Biocon's commitment to developing semaglutide for the Indian market, even if it necessitates conducting clinical trials. "We're striving to be one of the early players in the market, aiming for a launch in 2026 or shortly after," Mittal stated in an interview.

Biocon, headquartered in Bengaluru and heavily reliant on revenue from international markets like the United States, intends to initially introduce generic versions of weight-loss drugs in emerging markets such as Brazil, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia. Mittal noted that semaglutide will lose patent protection in these countries by 2026, prompting Biocon to engage in discussions with local manufacturers for supply partnerships.

The company's strategy involves seeking a waiver on clinical trials from Indian regulators, instead opting to submit bioequivalence studies demonstrating that their version of semaglutide yields an equivalent effect as the branded drug.

In addition to semaglutide, Biocon is also developing a version of tirzepatide, the active ingredient in Eli Lilly's obesity treatment Mounjaro and Zepbound. However, details regarding the timing and initial marketing strategy for tirzepatide were not disclosed.

The weight-loss drug market has demonstrated high demand, with Novo Nordisk's Wegovy and Eli Lilly's Mounjaro experiencing significant interest due to their effectiveness in helping patients achieve substantial weight loss. Wegovy, in particular, enabled participants in clinical trials to lose an average of 15% of their body weight, while Mounjaro led to an average loss of 18%. These drugs belong to the class of GLP-1 receptor agonists, which regulate blood sugar levels and slow digestion to promote a feeling of fullness.

Biocon's foray into the weight-loss drug market aligns with its significant investment in generics research and development, with a notable focus on peptides including those for weight-loss treatments. The company anticipates competition from other Indian pharmaceutical companies like Dr. Reddy's and Cipla, which are also exploring the development of their versions of Wegovy pending patent expiries.

Looking ahead, Biocon aims to capitalize on its development efforts by entering key markets globally, including India, Europe, and other emerging regions, with an array of weight-loss treatments tailored to meet the growing demand for effective obesity therapies.

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