Roche Diabetes Care, the leading producer of blood glucose monitoring devices, said it has not only reached its pre-COVID-19 sales levels but is witnessing higher growth as more people prefer self-monitoring of blood glucose sitting in their homes.
“In March, when the lockdown was announced, our sales fell by 50 percent compared to February, and the supply chain was impacted. It took us lot of time to convince authorities that glucometers are essential devices,” said Omar Sherief Mohammad, Country Head, Roche Diabetes Care India.
“However from May onwards we have seen the demand rising. The organic demand was always there, but it is the inorganic demand that has started coming, wherein patients who have not been able to get tested in labs have now started monitoring blood glucose levels sitting at home,” Mohammed said.
Roche is among the dominant players in the 8-9 million glucometer devices market in India which is worth around Rs 1200 crore.
Mohammed says the penetration of the devices is low at 10-12 percent, and the frequency of self-monitoring is 1 to 1.5 times.
According to the International Diabetes Federation, India is home to 77 million adults aged between 20 and 79 years with diabetes, ranking second (behind China) and poised to reach 134.2 million patients by 2045.
The market is still growing at 15 percent, but Mohammad says the penetration is still low.
According to him, online sales that used to constitute about 5-8 percent of overall sales have increased to 15 percent amid COVID-19.
The company which has been selling self- monitoring glucometers for many years has upgraded its devices.
These third generation devices are connected to a mobile app, helping a patient to monitor blood glucose on real time and share the information with his doctor, Mohammad pointed out. The company is providing the same platform for the healthcare professionals, so they can talk to each other maintaining data privacy.
"We are trying to differentiate ourselves and create an ecosystem, wherein a patient is able to manage his complexity easily; moreover, timely intervention is helping doctors to get better clinical outcomes," Mohammad said.
Roche is following a ‘Figital’ model to expand in India, that includes both face-to-face and digital consultations.
Roche works extensively in India through partners. The company has tied up with digital coaching companies such as Phable and Wellthy Therapeutics, and e-commerice and logistics firms PharmEasy and Parekh Integrated Serivces and Udaan to provide care and expand services.
Through partnership with Phable, women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) using Accu-Check meters will now have access to healthcare practitioners to monitor their diabetes closely and make necessary therapy titrations through the Phablecare app.
With Wellthy Therapeutics, the company offers its Accu-Chek Active users remote access to personalised coaching from highly skilled diabetes educations, round-the-clock support based on individual needs and diabetes management plans.
Through PharmEasy, Roche has enhanced customer service by addressing key customer pain points. The tech-enabled national distribution model of Udaan will help the company bring agility and transparency in managing their primary and secondary distribution.
Roche has inaugurated the kit assembly site with Parekh Integrated Service. The new facility is compliant with Roche Global Quality and Safety stands, and will assemble and pack blood glucose monitoring kits,
Mohammed said the Roche Diabetes Care will be bringing its insulin patch pumps from its global portfolio.
Insulin patch pumps are very useful for intensive insulin users, whose blood sugar levels have to be brought under control.
Roche is awaiting regulatory approvals for India and is hopeful of marketing it by mid-2021.