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USV in talks with Novartis to buy Jalra Trademark for Rs. 200 Crore

Mumbai-based drugmaker USV Pvt Ltd is in advanced discussions to acquire the trademark for antidiabetes drug Jalra from Novartis for a deal valued at more than Rs. 200 crore.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Dec 09, 2019, 07.27 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: Mumbai-based drugmaker USV Pvt Ltd is in advanced discussions to acquire the trademark for antidiabetes drug Jalra from Novartis for a deal valued at more than Rs. 200 crore, people aware of the development told ET. The family-run USV is likely to announce the acquisition soon, they said. Emails sent to USV and Novartis did not elicit any response till press time Sunday.

Jalra is used — alone or in combination with other medicines — to treat type II diabetes in adult patients. It contains vildagliptin, a class of medication called dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP4) inhibitors, with overall sales of around Rs. 800 crore, according to pharmaceutical audit agency AIOCD PharmaTrac.

With Novartis’ patent for blockbuster vildagliptin set to expire this month in India, it is expected to see a flood of branded generic versions entering the Indian market. Jalra was introduced in India by USV through a co-marketing arrangement with the Swiss drugmaker. Under this deal, USV co-marketed Jalra and Jalra M (vildagliptin metformin) to physicians.

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“With this brand acquisition, USV will now own the trademark in India,” one of the sources said. USV has a strong foothold in the Indian oral anti-diabetes products segment with brands such as Glycomet, Glycomet GP, and Pirox. Vildagliptin is sold under the brand Galvus by the originator Novartis and considered effective in controlling blood glucose levels.

Aspart of its India marketing strategy, Novartis first licensed the drug to Piramal Healthcare. In 2010, Piramal's India prescriptions business was acquired by Abbott, which marketed the brand as Zomelis, Earlier this month, Eris Lifesciences acquired the trademark of Zomelis from Novartis for a consideration of $13 million. Eris is expected to start selling the product in the Indian market from December 10.

Inaddition to USV and Eris, vildagliptin is licensed to a few other drug makers.

Vildagliptin has about 25% share of the Indian gliptins market of Rs. 3,600 crore. Over a dozen odd companies are readying to launch the generic version of vildagliptin, which is expected to eventually bring down the price of the drug drastically. Companies like Mankind Pharma are all set to launch their version. Mankind is planning to launch it in January, its chairman RC Juneja said. Mankind is likely to bring its price down to Rs. 8-10 per tablet.

At present, the three gliptins in the market — sitagliptin, vildagliptin and saxagliptin — are priced at around Rs. 45 for a day's therapy, taking the cost of treatment to Rs. 16,500 per year. However, a large share is captured by teneligliptin brands.

With generics entering in the market, the cost of therapy will reduce substantially, making it easier for the diabetics to access the drug, doctors said. “Earlier we had to take into consideration other cheaper brands of gliptin, but with more and more companies coming out with their versions, a lot of underprivileged patients will be put on the drug,” said Anoop Misra, chairman of Delhi-based multi-speciality hospital Fortis C-Doc.
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