Diabetic injecting insulinDiabetes is a growing global scourge, but for Big Pharma it's more of a lifesaver. In the U.S. alone, a whopping 105 million people have diabetes or prediabetes, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, a 10% increase from 2008. And an estimated 79 million adults have prediabetes, a staggering 39% increase from 2008. No wonder pharmaceuticals companies are eager to tap the market.

Characterized by high blood-sugar levels, diabetes results from the body's difficulty to produce and/or use insulin -- a hormone that helps the body use blood sugar for energy. Type 1 diabetes develops when the body can no longer make insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90% to 95% of cases, the body gradually loses its ability to use and produce insulin.

In prediabetes, which affects 35% of the adult population, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes, though, raises a person's risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Hefty Price Tag


Despite its growing prevalence, the disease can't be taken lightly. Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S. and is a major cause of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Diabetes is also the leading cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic feet and leg amputations, nervous system damage and new cases of blindness among adults in the U.S.

All that adds up to a hefty price tag. Diabetes, the CDC says, costs $174 billion annually. In November, health insurer UnitedHealth Group (UNH) released a study projecting that the disease will cost the nation $3.35 trillion over the next decade, with diabetes and prediabetes costing almost $500 billion annually. A 2007 study by the American Diabetes Association estimated that 1 in every 10 health care dollars is attributed to diabetes.

The CDC is working with the National Institute of Health on the National Diabetes Prevention Program, as provided for in the landmark Affordable Care Act. It estimates that if current trends continue, as many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050. Just in 2010, 1.9 million new cases were diagnosed in adult Americans. The CDC estimates that 84% of adults diagnosed with diabetes take insulin and/or oral medication.

The Top-Selling Drugs

In 2009, the U.S. diabetes market grew 17% from 2008, reaching $14.9 billion, according to data from health care information company IMS Health. Worldwide, the market generated sales of over $25 billion, according to independent business information provider Visionagain. By 2019, Morningstar projects the worldwide diabetes market, excluding insulin, will grow to over $55 billion.

That's why pharmaceutical companies, in search for more revenue in light of the many high-price drugs that are coming off patent, are focusing much of their efforts on this growth market. According to IMS Health, the top-selling diabetes drugs in the U.S. now are Takeda's oral drug Actos, with nearly $1.8 billion in sales in the first half on 2010; Sanofi-Aventis's (SNY) Lantus products, with nearly $1.5 billion in sales, and Merck's (MRK) Januvia, with $854 million in sales. The total diabetes market in the first half of 2010 was $8.7 billion, nearly as much as full-year 2005's market of $9.3 billion.

Rounding out the top five diabetes drugs in the U.S. are Novo-Nordisk's (NVO) Novolog and Eli-Lilly's (LLY) Humalog, both of which are analog insulin drugs. Other players include Lilly and Amylin's (AMLN) Byetta, which had fourth-quarter 2010 sales of $174.6 million, and Novo-Nordisk's Victoza, which had sales of roughly $127 million in the third quarter. Both are antidiabetes hormone analog drugs. And then there's the controversial oral pill Avandia from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), whose sales declined to roughly $112 million in the third quarter.

Drugs that are analogs of human insulin, such as Lantus, held 42% of the U.S. market, followed by so-called glitazones, such as Actos and Avandia, with 28% of the market, and DPP-4 Inhibitors, such as Januvia and Bristol-Myers Squibb's (BMY) and AstraZeneca's (AZN) Onglyza, with 14% of the market, according to IMS Health data.

An Epidemic in China and India

Big Pharma continues to push ahead. In January alone, Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim announced an agreement to jointly develop diabetes compounds. And a new class of drugs, SGLT-2 inhibitors, holds the promise of becoming blockbusters, according to Morningstar, with Bristol and Astra further along in development of these compounds.

But diabetes research isn't necessarily easy. MannKind's (MNKD) inhaled insulin, for one, was rejected last week by the Food and Drug Administration. And when Roche faced setbacks with its once-weekly insulin, it resorted to massive job cuts.

Diabetes is also becoming a global problem, and in some countries, such as China and India, an epidemic. Pharmaceutical companies are paying attention. Lilly recently announced plans to open a research center focused on diabetes in China.

As long as diabetes cases keep expanding, this market will become increasingly important to Big Pharma.


Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Professional Vs Do it Yourself Investing

Should you get advice or DYI?

View Course »

Investing in Emerging Markets

Learn to invest in a globalized world.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

62 Comments

Filter by:
Bill

The Armed Forces are social programs we should get rid of.

January 28 2011 at 6:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tdu1vme

Type 1 Diabetes, as well as other auto-immune diseases, may be helped by a readily available nutritional supplement. I have used it myself and continue to do so to effectively control my Uveitis and no longer need to control it with steroid eyedrops. A groundbreaking study at the prestigious University of California Irvine Center for Immunology demonstrated that the glucosamine-like supplement, called N-acetylglucosamine (not to be confused with Glucosamine Sulfate), inhibits the growth and function of abnormal T-cells that are responsible for producing various auto-immune diseases (specifically Type 1 Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis in the study) such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, by incorrectly directing the immune system to attack specific tissues in the body. After reading an article about the research I decided to give it a try as the regular use of the eyedrops I was using can lead to both cataracts and glaucoma as unwanted side effects. I was extremely happy when the desired results were achieved. However the supplement is not a cure and I have to take it fairly regularly, three times a day. Anyone with Type 1 Diabetes or any other auto-immune disease may want to ry it. You can read about the UC Irvine study by clicking on - http://www.healthcare.uci.edu/news_releases.asp?filename=07MayDiabetes.htm - Or do a Search for - UC Irvine Type 1 Diabetes - and click on the hit that matches the above Link; that one is the article by UC Irvine, the institution which produced the actual study. FYI, the particular supplement I use is the Jarrow Formulas brand called N-A-G 750. I take one capsule thre times a day. I have twice stopped taking it to see if the condition had been eliminated, but each time I had an attack within ten days. I then resumed with double the dose and brought it back under control within three days, and then resumed the regualar dose of one capsule, three times a day. One year after beginning using it in place of the steroid eyedrops my Opthalmologist told me that her examination showed my eyes to be "in perfect health"! Do an online Search to obtain the product at a considerable discount.

January 28 2011 at 3:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jhigh52

We ALL need to watch our diets. While animals are dying in the wild from starvation, the waistlines on many humans are exploding. It is simply unbelievable to see men and women with stomachs protruding to such a degree as to mimic a 9 to 12 month pregnancy and children weighing considerably more than they should. We have to cut our portions drastically, especially when eating out at those "all you can eat" restaurants - and they are everywhere. Yes food prices continue to go up and up, however there is an abundance of food all around us loaded with sugar and fat. We have got to take responsibility for ourselves and clean up our diets from all that junk on the shelves in our supermarkets, turn off the computers and TVs and get moving. We are our own worse enemies for the most part and I am no exception....with overpopulation of the planet there is absolutely no way the government is going to be able to take care of this problem, especially when way too many of us are not motivated to help ourselves....that is not just an accusation, it is indeed fact. Indeed something drastic needs to be done about our food supply and our health and beauty aids which are indeed loaded with chemicals

January 28 2011 at 2:26 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jhigh52's comment
viremia

While individual animals may indeed starve to death, recently publish research provides startling evidence that animals are also getting fatter!!

"A researcher came upon a record of marmosets in a Wisconsin research colony: the little primates’ weight had soared over the previous 15 or so years, even though they had not been bred for larger size, switched chow supplier, or undergone any other change that would obviously explain their extra heft. That set Allison looking for weight records of other animals.

With colleagues, he scrutinized the weight histories of 24 populations, from alley rats in Baltimore to lab macaques in California and even control groups of mice in federal toxicology studies. In a paper to be published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B (for biology), they report that in 23 of the 24—eight species, 20,000-plus animals—the percentage of obese individuals has risen since the 1940s (or since the oldest records they found). The odds of that happening by chance are 8 million to 1. And since neither feral rats nor lab chimps nor any of the others have cut back on phys ed or patronized vending machines more, says Allison, we need to look for explanations beyond the Big Two.

Food marketing, more TV, and less phys ed can no more explain these fatter animals than they can the epidemic of obesity in babies under 6 months. All these creatures live near or with people, however, which raises the intriguing possibility that common factors might explain their obesity as well as ours. Such as? Sleep debt, which increases blood levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and reduces levels of satiety-causing leptin. (Average sleep among U.S. adults has fallen from nine hours per night to seven.) Endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as BPA, which bind to receptors that trigger proliferation of fat cells. More central heating and AC, which means we burn fewer calories to stay warm in winter and don’t get the appetite-killing effects of sweltering in summer. Infection with adenovirus-36, which causes obesity in lab animals and is correlated with it in people." Sharon Begley for Newsweek.

January 28 2011 at 2:59 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
viremia

While individual animals may indeed starve to death, recently publish research provides startling evidence that animals are also getting fatter!!

"A researcher came upon a record of marmosets in a Wisconsin research colony: the little primates’ weight had soared over the previous 15 or so years, even though they had not been bred for larger size, switched chow supplier, or undergone any other change that would obviously explain their extra heft. That set Allison looking for weight records of other animals.

With colleagues, he scrutinized the weight histories of 24 populations, from alley rats in Baltimore to lab macaques in California and even control groups of mice in federal toxicology studies. In a paper to be published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B (for biology), they report that in 23 of the 24—eight species, 20,000-plus animals—the percentage of obese individuals has risen since the 1940s (or since the oldest records they found). The odds of that happening by chance are 8 million to 1. And since neither feral rats nor lab chimps nor any of the others have cut back on phys ed or patronized vending machines more, says Allison, we need to look for explanations beyond the Big Two.

Food marketing, more TV, and less phys ed can no more explain these fatter animals than they can the epidemic of obesity in babies under 6 months. All these creatures live near or with people, however, which raises the intriguing possibility that common factors might explain their obesity as well as ours. Such as? Sleep debt, which increases blood levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and reduces levels of satiety-causing leptin. (Average sleep among U.S. adults has fallen from nine hours per night to seven.) Endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as BPA, which bind to receptors that trigger proliferation of fat cells. More central heating and AC, which means we burn fewer calories to stay warm in winter and don’t get the appetite-killing effects of sweltering in summer. Infection with adenovirus-36, which causes obesity in lab animals and is correlated with it in people." Sharon Begley for Newsweek.

January 28 2011 at 2:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Karen Lambdin

Doctors should be taking tests to measure deficientcies and toxicities to determine the cause of the disease to HEAL you, not just give you tests to give your symptoms a name and then suppress the symptoms with drugs. Go to beyondhealth.com and see what Raymond Francis(a brilliant MIT scientist) has to say about all diseases. LOOKING OUT FOR YOU NOT YOUR MONEY.

Karen L.

January 28 2011 at 2:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
tdu1vme

Type 2 Diabetes is skyrocketing in the United States because of the drastic change in lifestyle and diet of children, teenagers, and young adults which has taken place over the last thirty or so years. The change in lifestyle has been from a relatively active one of years past which involved daily walking and/or riding bicycles to and from school, riding bikes or walking/running just to play or get to a playground, visit friends, or just for the fun of it, daily recess at school for schoolchildren to get some exercise, e.g., playing ball (shooting basketball hoops), catch (baseball, softball, rubber ball), jumping rope, playing hopscotch, playing tag, learning to do calisthenics, and daily outdoor playtime at home, etc., to a much more sedentary lifestyle involving hours of sitting and watching TV, using the computer, use of motorized transportation (whether auto/truck, bus, motorcycle/bike) for just about all travel purposes, etc.

Such drastic change has resulted in a sharp decrease in the number of calories needed and burned by the body. Unfortunately, the change in diet has been just as drastic and has easily quadrupled the daily intake of calories with the regular consumption of sugary soft drinks and fruit juice type drinks, the routine addition in drinks and foods of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) or other sugars, simple carbohydrates of all types - candy, candy bars, energy bars, pastries, fast food, etc., which were either non-existent or extremely rare years ago.

However, both the activity level and diet can be changed and Type 2 Diabetes reversed or lessened in its severity. Television personality Drew Carey is one of those who has taken off a considerable number of pounds of bodyweight with such changes and claims to have eliminated his Type 2 Diabetes, no longer requiring medication. You can read about it here by clicking on

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20017007-10391704.html

Or do a Search for - Drew Carey Diabetes - and read some of the hits. You may also want to read the article entitled, "Reverse Diabetes in 30 Days With Diet/Exerise" at

http://collagenelife.com/reverse_diabetes.html

Or do a Search for - Reverse Diabetes - and read some of those hits for more examples of famous personalities who claim to have done the same or something similar resulting in a major improvement in their condition.

January 28 2011 at 2:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
phoefler

My son was diagnosed with Ttype 1 Diabetes at age 7. He has shown more strength then I ever tought possible. "Big-Pharm" needs to stop looking to increase profits at the cost of patients and look to heal or deminish the impact of diseases. My son and I are holding out for a cure and hope "big pharm" does not withhold it because it makes more dollars in treatment of medical conditions rather than being true to the hypocratic oath and looking to heal.

January 28 2011 at 2:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
TnT

This is the new 'designer disease', folks. Seems that millions of people have it and don't even know it according to the AMA. The pharmaceutical houses are going to get even richer now.

January 28 2011 at 1:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
sgard206

While I agree Diabetes is a growing problem (growing right along with the waistlines), a lot of the increase in diabetes stemmed from the medical industry adjusting the acceptable numbers down, just like they did with cholesterol and blood pressure. They literally created a 30% increase in business for those drugs. Eating good food, exercising and reducing stress are the best ways to live a full life. Also, the pharmaceutical companies have no incentive to look for cures for any disease. Pushing medications and procedures is what keeps their bottom line up.

January 28 2011 at 1:33 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
seaquestdsv017

THis is a disgrace, I been a type 1 diabetic from the time i was 10 years old, and now i have no insurance, and a bottle of insulin costs $150 and keeps going up. It takes 3 bottles of insulin a month to keep me alive. Why hasnt anyone realized that pharmaceutical companies are the reason healthcare is in the shape its in. Insulin had been produced for 50 years but still costs a whopping $150 a bottle?

January 28 2011 at 1:27 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to seaquestdsv017's comment
sgard206

All the hype about type II really does ignore those, like you, who have suffered since childhood. Again, the pharma industry has no incentives to look for cures, and they know you will pay rather than go without. These are the medical issues we need to bombard our congress men and women with.

January 28 2011 at 1:38 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
us118

THIS IS WHY THERE IS NO CURE FOR DIABETES IN AMERICA BECAUSE THE PROFITS ARE UNBELIEVABLE AND THE MONEY KEEPS ROLLING IN FOR THE DRUG COMPANIES AND THE GOVERNMENT

I DO BELIEVE IN SOME OTHER COUNTRIES THERE ARE CURES.. SIMPLE THINGS LIKE APPLE CIDER VINEGAR AT NIGHT LOWERS YOUR BLOOD SUGAR BY 25% IN SOME CASES

January 28 2011 at 12:23 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply