Chinese Market Becomes More Intense for Antidiabetic Drugs

China is currently the country with the largest number of diabetes patients. More and more antidiabetic drugs enter China's centralized procurement with sharply-lowered prices to contend for the market.
by Grace Wang Mar 08, 2021

China's fourth round of national centralized drug procurement has begun, according to Jinfu Chen, deputy head of the National Healthcare Security Administration (NHSA) in Beijing on Jan. 29, 2021. This time five new diabetes medications are included in the procurement list. They are empagliflozin, canagliflozin, repaglinide, nateglinide, and gliclazide.

China launched the centralized procurement pilot program in April 2019 and made the first round in December of the same year. The Joint Procurement Office has published four procurement lists so far, with a total of 159 medicines, including 11 antidiabetic drugs.

Details of the diabetes drugs newly included in the fourth round of procurement 1

Drug name

Mechanism

Relevant companies

Type

Gliclazide

Sulfonylurea

Beijing Fuyuan Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd

Approved through supplementary   application for the consistency evaluation

Yichang Humanwell Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd

Approved through supplementary application for the consistency evaluation

Servier (Tianjin) Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd

Reference list drug locally produced by the originator

Nateglinide

Sodium/glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT-2) inhibitor

Zhuhai Tongyi Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd

New registration of generic drugs

Jiangsu Deyuan Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd

Approved through supplementary application for the consistency evaluation

Beijing Novartis Pharma Co., Ltd

Reference list drug locally produced by the originator

Repaglinide

Meglitinide

Beijing Fuyuan Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd

Approved through supplementary application for the consistency evaluation

Jiangsu Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group Co., Ltd

Approved   through supplementary application for the consistency evaluation

Empagliflozin

SGLT-2 inhibitor

Sichuan Kelun Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

New registration of generic drugs

Jiangsu Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group Co., Ltd

New registration of generic drugs

Boehringer-Ingelheim

Imported brand-name drugs

Canagliflozin

SGLT-2 inhibitor

Chia Tai Tianqing Pharmaceutical Group Co., Ltd.

New registration of generic drugs

Jiangsu Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group Co., Ltd

New registration of generic drugs

Janssen   Pharmaceuticals

Imported brand-name drugs

Note: The Document on National Centralized Drug Procurement2 says four types of drugs are allowed to submit applications for supplying drugs in the procurement. They are

(1)    Brand-name drugs and reference listed drugs (RLD) that have been approved by National Medical Products Administration (NMPA).

(2)    Generic drugs that passed NMPA's consistency evaluation of the quality and efficacy of generic medicines.

(3)    Generic drugs that were registered under the new classification system for registration of chemical drugs according to NMPA's No. 51 Announcement on the Classification System Reform in 2016.

(4)    Drugs that are included in the Catalogue of Medications that Have Accessed Chinese Market.

Joining the centralized procurement list is arduous

The total number of diabetics in China has reached 129.8 million3, says the latest large-scale epidemiological investigation on diabetes. Some diabetic drugs thus have already sold a lot due to the large amount of patients. Gliclazide's 2019 sales volume in the country's public healthcare institution terminals exceeded one billion yuan. The incidence of diabetes will continue to rise with an aging population. The Chinese diabetes market scale will reach 116.7 billion yuan by 2023.4

Facing such a huge market, more and more companies bid to provide medicines in the centralized drug-procurement program to increase sales. Nevertheless, the procurement usually sees a substantial drop in prices. For example, the antidiabetic drug gliclazide's bid price was cut to 0.5057 yuan for each 0.5 mg tablet in the fourth round of procurement. 5

Moreover, the competition for bids is also fierce. In the third round of centralized procurement in July 2020, forty-four pharmaceutical firms bid to supply metformin hydrochloride (HCL). The average bid price for a 0.5mg metformin HCL tablet came down to only 0.06 yuan. In the second round of procurement in Dec. 2019, Bayer AG defeated Huadong Medicine in the tender of Acarbose with a bid price of 0.18 yuan per tablet; Glimepiride's bid was cut by 96%, prompting Sanofi, the drug's original developer, to abandon its bid.

With favorable policies and increasing demands, China's diabetes treatment market is going to boom and will continue attracting more companies from home and abroad to join in the competition. BaiPharm has also noticed some local governments like Wuhan Pharmaceutical and Equipment Joint Procurement Office included insulin in the city's procurement list in May last year. It implies that insulin is much likely to enter the national procurement list soon. 6

Grace Wang
ChemLinked Regulatory Analyst
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