Newer classes of drugs and maybe vaccines in the future, are set to transform the expanding diabetes market, according to a just-published report from Frost & Sullivan.

The analysts say that “increasing knowledge related to the pathology of diabetes will support the introduction of improved drugs to treat the disease”. Furthermore, as improved therapies and innovative drug delivery techniques are anticipated to revolutionise the global diabetes market by 2015,” argues F&S’ Sylvia Miriyam Findlay.

“As healthcare moves towards preventive medicine, the search for a cure for diabetes looks promising,” she claims and the report notes that there are a few companies conducting research on diabetes vaccines. “If they succeed, the entire market landscape is bound to undergo instant change,” the analysis states.

Before then, however, F&S argues that long-acting glucagon-like peptide-1 analogues, such as Novo Nordisk’s Victoza (liraglutide) and an extended-release version of Amylin’s Byetta (exenatide) are likely to gain significance “and almost match the importance of insulin in the near future”. This trend is likely to be beneficial for type-2 diabetics who have not responded to other oral agents.

However the analysis notes that the US Food and Drug Administration “has detailed stringent policies” for the approval of diabetic treatments. These policies “compel lengthier clinical trials, often resulting in the delayed launch of new drugs and increased drug development costs”.

Ms Findlay adds that “the not-so conducive regulatory environment, varying price controls across countries and parallel trading hinders the growth of the global diabetes market”. In addition, “generic competition arising due to patent expiries of major drugs is also restraining market expansion.”

Despite these obstacles, diabetes is, “and will continue to be, a lucrative segment”, F&S says, noting that the market earned revenues of $27.00 billion in 2008. The analysts expect this to reach $44.70 billion in 2015.

Asian markets, especially India and China, “offer tremendous prospects for growth,” concluded Ms Findlay. “These markets have large diabetic populations and, with the number of undiagnosed diabetics increasing, lucrative untapped opportunities are emerging for pharmaceutical companies.”