Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Oct 16, 2004
Industry & Economy
Rofecoxib ban Boom seen for other Cox II inhibitors
New Delhi , Oct. 15
AFTER the Health Ministry deciding to ban the sale of arthritis drug, rofecoxib, pharmaceutical companies are likely to push other cycloxygenase II (Cox II) inhibitors such as celecoxib, valdecoxib and eterocoxib in a big way.
Last month, the US-based Merck had decided to voluntarily withdraw vioxx (branded version of rofecoxib) after it was found that prolonged use of the drug caused side effects such as cardiac attacks and strokes.
"With the ban on rofecoxib, we expect companies to turn to other inhibitors. Ranbaxy too has other such products and we will work out a strategy," said a Ranbaxy Laboratories official.
Several domestic companies such as Dr Reddy's, Zydus Cadila, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Torrent Pharmaceuticals, and Sun Pharmaceuticals manufacture other Cox II inhibitory drugs as well.
Speaking to Business Line, Mr J.P. Parswani, Vice-President (Marketing), Cadila Pharmaceuticals, said: "We expect competition in other Cox II segments to go up, especially valdecoxib. This is the latest molecule and has been found to be safe with very few side effects. Earlier, Nimesulide was also found to cause side effects." Added Dr Swati A. Pirmal, Director, Strategic Alliances and Communications, Nicholas Piramal India Ltd, "We had acquired small brand of rofecoxib from Sarabhai-Piramal (which was a separate joint venture) when we acquired the company. Since we already had a brand called Vah, which has valdecoxib, we decided to discontinue the rofecoxib brand a few months ago, before Merck's announcement. Hence we do not have a major sales loss in rofecoxib."
Another new molecule that companies would like to evaluate is eterocoxib.
The market for Cox II inhibitors is estimated at Rs 200 crore. Market research agency ORG-IMS pegs the oral Rofecoxib market at Rs 92 crore.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry's National Pharmacovigilance Advisory Committee, which studied the side effects of rofecoxib, has also recommended cautious use of other selective Cox II inhibitory drugs in patients suffering from cardiac disorders.
"The fate of other Cox II inhibitors is unclear. We have to understand the full implications of this warning," said the Ranbaxy official.
Dr Sanjiv Malik, Honorary Secretary-General, Indian Medical Association (IMA), said: "Cox II drugs were introduced after they were found to be safer than the earlier generation of inhibitors."
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