MSD launches diabetic drug

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Chennai, May 9 (UNI) Pharma major MSD Pharmaceuticals, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Merck and Co Inc today launched its ''breakthrough, once-daily, type-2 diabetes tablet, JNUVIA (Sitagliptin) in Tamil Nadu.

Sitagliptin, the company claimed, was the first in a new class of drugs known as dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors, which enhance the body's own ability to lower blood sugar (glucose) when it is elevated.

''The mechanism of action of DPP-4 inhibitors is distinct from that of any currently available class of glucose-lowering agents,'' MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd Managing Director Naveen Rao said during launching it.

Diabetes was a growing epidemic that shows no sign of slowing down and is the fifth leading cause of death, globally.

Currently more than 194 million people worldwide were suffering from diabetes. India was considered to be the diabetic capital of world, with largest population of diabetic patients, more than 30 million as per WHO estimates in year 2000.

Patients with diabetes were at risk of slow and irreversible damage to organs like heart, kidneys and eyes which accounts for increased morbidity and mortality associated with the disease.

Sitagliptin, already available in around 70 countries, was launched in 60 cities last week to be available in pharmacies in India on prescription from physicians, Dr Rao said. The once-a-day drug will cost Rs 300 per week to the patients in India.

''DPP-4 inhibitors are an important breakthrough. They represent an innovative and different approach to treating Type 2 diabetes, a disease that is rapidly increasing in prevalence and exacting huge costs on a personal and global level.

''Approximately 2 out of 3 adults being treated are not achieving target blood sugar levels, suggesting that current therapies have significant limitations,'' Dr Anand, a leading city diabetologist, said.

''Sitagliptin is an exciting new option that effectively lowers blood sugar levels. Importantly, the profile of side-effects observed with Sitagliptin was as good as placebo. In fact, Sitagliption was well tolerated in large controlled clinical trials,'' he added.

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