Cadila launches first cheaper version of a multi-billion dollar drug

Gujarat-based drug maker Cadila Healthcare Ltd, which runs under the brand Zydus Cadila, has become the first company to launch the biosimilar of Adalimumab, a drug for treating patients suffering from autoimmune disorders, according to a company release.

The therapy provides a new lease of life to patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders globally and will now be accessible in India at one-fifth of the price in the US. 

The significance of the launch is that the drug’s branded version - sold under the name Humira by US firm AbbVie Inc - had registered sales of $3.26 billion in the quarter ended September, accounting for 65 per cent of AbbVie’s total revenue, according to a Reuters report.

A vial costs $1,000 in the US, while Cadila will sell the same for $200.  

The biosimilar has been approved by the Drug Controller General of India and will be marketed under the brand name, Exemptia to treat autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Sharvil P Patel, deputy managing director of Zydus Cadila, said, “At Zydus, we believe that innovations must bridge unmet healthcare needs and provide solutions to patients who are suffering from disease and disability especially in such chronic conditions. The therapy will offer a new lease of life to millions in India who did not have access to it so far.”

The group’s R&D pipeline, which comprises 24 biologics, includes biosimilars and three novel biologics. These biologics are being developed to treat autoimmune disorders like arthritis, cancer, infertility and stroke.

Adalimumab, a fully human anti-TNF alpha monoclonal antibody, was first approved globally in 2002. However, the therapy was not available to patients in India. It is estimated that more than 12 million patients in India suffer from these chronic conditions which lead to lifelong pain and in some cases, even disability.

The therapy will be marketed by Zydus Biovation, a new division launched to exclusively market this therapy.

Zydus Cadila is a pharmaceutical company that develops, manufactures and markets healthcare therapies. It aims to achieve sales of over Rs10,000 crore by 2015.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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