Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Oct 13, 2004
Industry & Economy - Health
Merck effect: Pharma cos scan pain relief options
D. S. Madhumathi
Bangalore , Oct. 12
DOMESTIC companies that made and sold the arthritis drug rofecoxib are quickly scanning their pain relief portfolios to see how best to recover market space.
Rofecoxib, a much-prescribed drug for the past two years, is now a market discard, suspected of being unsafe by none other than its US creator, Merck & Co.
As in the case of Micro Labs of Bangalore, the choice seems to be falling on etoricoxib, dyclofenac and other old analgesic favourites. Etoricoxib is another molecule from the same cox-2 family and is also owned by Merck. Meanwhile, Merck is said to be coming out with its etoricoxib brand, Arcoxia.
The Rs 450-crore Micro announced its plan for etoricoxib in February this year. It has lined up two brands, Etoxib and Etodol, and the rollout may take a couple of months, said Mr Jayaraj, VP-Products. The company also has an older celecoxib product, though a minor one at that.
"We are also looking at our old and time-tested (NSAID - non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) products like indomethacin and nabumetone," he said.
The Rs 1,200 crore-Rs 1,300-crore pain relief segment, growing at six per cent annually, may see a push in other related brands.
Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila launched its version, Nucoxia, a few months ago and is the brand leader in both etoricoxib and the older celecoxib, according to Mr Ganesh Nayak, Executive Director of the Rs 1,250-crore major.
Its Bangalore-based division, Zydus Recon, has a Rs 6-crore valdecoxib brand, Revaldo, and a Rs 4-crore dyclofenac product, Inac.
Zydus is stepping up promotion of Revaldo, in the market for three years, and Inac.
According to Mr Nayak, the cox-2 basket for Zydus Cadila brings in around Rs 18 crore a year, of which rofecoxib accounted for barely 15-20 per cent and was not much of a loss. The company was in any case going easy on its promotion.
"Valdecoxib (through the Bangalore divison) and celecoxib (through the main division) which has been in the market for ten years - will be our main focus now," he said, adding that this was also an impetus to promote old NSAIDs such as dyclofenac. Doctors were also being advised to switch over to these.
Torrent Pharmaceuticals also has its etoricoxib version.
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