Fighting Diabetes Using Oral Semaglutide Pills -Here’s How

Novo Nordisk is all set to launch its Oral Semaglutide Pills in India. Read how they remove the need for insulin shots.

Srishti Sharma
5 min readMar 31, 2022

With almost 1.3 billion people, India has the world’s second-largest overall population. In 2017, the International Diabetes Federation projected that 72.9 million individuals in India had diabetes. The majority of this diabetic population has Type-II diabetes — which is characterized by insulin resistance and the pancreas gradually losing its capacity to produce insulin.

In this article, we will cover all about diabetes, the difference between both types, and the need for Oral Semaglutide pills over Insulin injections in a gist.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that develops when the blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is the primary source of energy and is obtained from the foods we consume. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, aids in the transport of this glucose from food into our cells for use as energy. Sometimes, the body doesn’t produce enough or even any insulin, and sometimes, it may not use the insulin efficiently.

Now, due to the lack or inefficiency of insulin — glucose remains in our circulation and does not reach the cells. Having too much glucose in the bloodstream might lead to health concerns over time. Although there is no cure for diabetes, one can take efforts to manage it and stay healthy.

What are the different types?

Diabetes is mainly classified into two types, Type-I and Type-II diabetes.

In Type-I diabetes, also known as diabetes insipidus, the body does not produce enough insulin. The immune system targets and kills the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Type-I is most commonly diagnosed in children and young adults, but it can occur at any age. To stay alive, people with Type-I diabetes must take insulin every day. This type of diabetes can be correctly classified as an organ-specific autoimmune disease.

In Type-II diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, the body does not produce or utilize insulin well enough. Type-II diabetes can strike at any age, including youth. This kind, on the other hand, is more common in middle-aged and older adults. This is also the most frequent kind of diabetes found.

Apart from the main two, there is another condition named Gestational Diabetes which occurs in some women during pregnancy. This form of diabetes usually goes away once the baby is born. A person is more likely to acquire Type-II diabetes later in life if they have experienced Gestational diabetes before. Diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is sometimes type-II.

All about Oral Semaglutide Pills

Taking insulin to control blood sugar levels is an obligatory need. Currently, the majority of this insulin is only provided through injections. It is a very unpleasant approach, and not something that anyone would want to go through every day. The insulin injection also carries the risk of being unsanitary in multiple situations as well! Therefore, the introduction of Oral Semaglutide Pills will be a much more pleasant option than the injections.

Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company, has announced the availability of oral semaglutide pills under the name ‘Rybelsus’ in India for the treatment of type-II diabetes.

Rybelsus Pills

These pills will cost ₹315 each tablet, or roughly ₹10,000 for a month’s supply. The company has kept the pills in the (similar) price range of the injectable GLP-1 and followed the price equilibrium band, which means that if a person goes from 3 mg to 7 mg, the cost they pay is only 9–10% higher, not double, as per any conventional models. It is interesting to note that India will be the sixth country in which these pills would be commercially launched!

Mechanism of Oral Semaglutide Pills

The action of these pills is somewhat similar to that of injectable insulin. Here is a simplified explanation of the mechanism with which they work:

  • The endogenous hormone GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) is secreted by the intestine’s L cells in reaction to food consumption & intestinal dilation.
  • GLP-1 then induces pancreatic beta-cells to release insulin, which again, relies on food intake. It also inhibits stomach motility and suppresses food appetite via the GLP-1 receptors in the satiety center.
  • In simpler words, one can say that the GLP-1 hormone is responsible for the release of insulin from beta-cells in the pancreas.
  • Okay, so where does Semaglutide fit in here? What Semaglutide does is that it mimics the GLP-1 or incretin hormones in diabetic patients.
  • The drug binds to the GLP-1 receptors (thus acting as a GLP-1 agonist) and stimulates the release of insulin thereby lowering one’s blood sugar levels.
Oral Semaglutide Pills Mechanism
Oral Semaglutide Pills Mechanism

Other Benefits of Oral Semaglutide Pills

Semaglutide, more than any other family of anti-diabetic drugs, directly or indirectly targets six of the eight pathophysiological abnormalities of Type-II diabetes. In clinical studies, the medication was also found to lower obesity and cardiovascular risk in addition to primary diabetes management.

Conclusion

The Drugs Controller General of India has cleared these Oral Semaglutide pills for use in 2022. With over 1,000 patients from India who have participated in Phase 3 clinical studies of oral Semaglutide, these pills are all ready to launch and take over the Indian market anytime now.

Though there are numerous alternative oral alternatives for remediation of Type-II diabetes, the majority of them are not suited for the wider population. These Oral Semaglutide pills are intended to be a low-cost replacement suited for the majority of Type-II diabetic patients, and may just prove to be a blessing — allowing them to avoid injecting insulin every day!

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