Biocon ventures into anti-obesity therapies amid patent expiry wave

As the patents on popular pharmaceuticals come up for renewal, Bengaluru-based Biocon Ltd. is turning its attention to anti-obesity remedies in anticipation of a $100 billion market boom by 2030.

The business has gained an early advantage over rivals by receiving approval in the UK for the first injectable generic form of liraglutide, which is scheduled to lose its patent protection in November. One of the first drugs in this market area to lose patent protection is this weight reduction medication, which is sold by Novo Nordisk A/S under the brand name Saxenda.

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Although Saxenda is deemed less effective for weight loss compared to newer versions like Wegovy and Ozempic, the approval of its generic counterpart marks just the beginning of an anticipated boon for drugmakers like Biocon.

CEO Siddharth Mittal said, “My leadership team and organization is ensuring that we do not give up the lead position we have now.”

Biocon is currently developing 15 peptide formulations, with one or two drugs expected to seek regulatory approval this year. Additionally, the company has filed applications with US and European regulators for liraglutide.

As India’s pharmaceutical giants race to tap into the obesity drugs market, Biocon, led by Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, spearheads the charge. Last year, China approved a liraglutide biosimilar developed by Huadong Medicine Co. for obesity treatment.

Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and Wegovy, both containing semaglutide, along with Eli Lilly’s tirzepatide (Zepbound), are part of a class of medications known as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists, driving the global frenzy in the obesity drugs market.