Swiss-based Roche Diabetes Care plans big mass market push in India

Roche Diabetes Care is a unit of Swiss drug major Roche

diabetes Representational image | File

Roche Diabetes Care, a unit of Swiss drug major Roche, is making a big push in the mass market for blood glucose monitoring, offering a much more affordable product to more people in India, which has the second most number of diabetes cases in the world.

India has close to 74 million people with diabetes, second only to China, which has the largest population of people with diabetes.

Roche Diabetes care sells Accu-Chek, a blood glucose monitoring device in the country. It has now launched a cheaper product Accu-Chek Instant S, priced at Rs 1,099 as it looks to make it accessible to a larger population base. India is one of the first major market where this product has been launched.

"Roche Diabetes Care India is one of the fastest growing affiliate of diabetes care globally, fastest growing in the Asia Pacific region. We are the market leaders in the country and want to have more number of patients monitoring their blood glucose levels and thus taking charge of their health. In the process, business will come," Sidhartha Roy, MD, Roche Diabetes Care told THE WEEK. 

Despite, India having the second most number of people with diabetes, less than 10 per cent of the people use blood glucose monitoring products, offering immense potential to expand.

Currently, the industry volumes are close to 1.5 million meters, with Roche alone accounting for around half of it.

Roche is also partnering governments to spread awareness and make affordable products easily accessible. It has been doing a pilot project with the UP government in relation to gestational diabetes. It is a condition, which a woman without diabetes develops during pregnancy. 

"We wanted it to be tested with a sizeable population and specifically targeted this condition of gestational diabetes in UP.  We started off with around 200,000 pregnant women. As the project touches more hospitals, this number will also grow," said Roy.

The project that began end of September last year is initially for a year, and based on the learnings that it will gather during the period, it will look to do similar projects in other states. 

Roche Diabetes Care has predominantly focused on metro markets thus far. However, its now also expanding focus to cities beyond the metro cities. 

Over time, the company will also link the physical (monitoring products) with digital technologies. Last year, Roche acquired mySugr, a leading diabetes platform in Europe. The app already has over a million active users and while its not currently available for users elsewhere, it aims to introduce it in markets like India in the future. It will also look to other digital tools that will make a patient's blood sugar data instantly available on their smartphones, making it easier for patients to monitor their condition. 

"We want to move away from a product-based to a product and solutions-based company. MySugr is a starting point," said Roy.   

Roche Diabetes care had a field force of around 100, which it has expanded to around 225. It currently covers around 60,000 retail pharmacies, which also it aims to expand.