Decision Resources, one of the leading research and advisory firms focusing on pharmaceutical and healthcare issues, forecasts that the Indian hepatitis B virus drug market will grow ten-fold by 2012, from $1.7 million in 2007 to $17 million in 2012.

According to the new Emerging Markets report entitled “Hepatitis B Virus in India,” this growth will be fueled by a growing awareness of the hepatitis B virus and the growth of individual wealth among India's urban middle and upper class.

"We forecast the hepatitis B drug market to grow significantly in the coming years. Clinicians we interviewed expect that India's increasing wealth, urbanization, and disease awareness will fuel an increase in diagnosis, particularly following educational efforts surrounding the inclusion of hepatitis B vaccines into the universal immunization program in 2009," said Dr John Lebbos, Vice President of Infectious Diseases at Decision Resources.

Additionally, the report finds that the number of prevalent cases of chronic hepatitis B virus in India (30.6 million in 2007) is three times that of the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, and Japan combined. However, both diagnosis rates and drug treatment rates in India are extremely low, resulting in a virtually untapped antiviral market for the disease.

The report also finds that a drug's safety and efficacy profiles are the most important factors influencing physician choice of a hepatitis B antiviral, yet cost is often a major concern of both clinicians and patients. A segment of interviewed specialists considered entecavir (Bristol-Myers Squibb's Baraclude) to be their drug of choice for hepatitis B, but its high cost results in infrequent use. Instead, lamivudine (GlaxoSmithKline's Hepitec, Cipla's Lamivir-HBV, GenixPharma's Heptavir, others) is the best known and most commonly prescribed antiviral for hepatitis B. Some clinicians have slowed their prescribing of lamivudine because of resistance and are now using adefovir (Cipla's Adsera, SunPharma's Adfovir and Ranbaxy's Adheb), despite the cost of adefovir being more than twice that of lamivudine.

The new report is part of an expansion of the Emerging Markets report series to cover India. The series focuses on key urban areas – Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai – and the high-growth second-tier markets of Lucknow and Jaipur. The Indian pharmaceutical market is estimated to have increased eight percent from 2006 to 2007.