FROM: Indianapolis Star
(Indianapolis, IN) Eli Lilly and Co.’s experimental diabetes drug dulaglutide did as well as the best-selling drug in its class in a head-to-head study on patients.
Results of the study, partially released Tuesday by Lilly, are encouraging for dulaglutide, which Lilly hopes to start marketing in the United States this year.
The Lilly drug was tested against Victoza, sold by Denmark’s Novo Nordisk. Both are so-called GLP-1 agonist drugs that treat Type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes.
The new and earlier study data “give us confidence that dulaglutide can be an important treatment option for people with Type 2 diabetes,” Enrique Conterno, president of Lilly Diabetes, said in a statement. “If approved, dulaglutide would be the only GLP-1 agonist that is both once-weekly and ready-to-use.”
The Indianapolis drugmaker said its study showed that a once-weekly, 1.5-milligram dose of dulaglutide was not inferior to a daily, 1.8-milligram dose of Victoza in nearly 600 patients who also were taking metformin, an older diabetes treatment.
The study measured reduction in blood sugar. GLP-1 agonists work by telling the body to make more insulin when needed while reducing the body’s sugar production.
Lilly is counting on dulaglutide to bring fresh revenue to offset disappearing sales from its two latest best-selling drugs, both of which have lost patent protection in the past three years.
The drug is forecast to hit $853 million in sales by 2019, according to an average of four analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
The non-inferiority result meets investor expectations, said Timothy Anderson, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Other data from the full study, such as the drug’s effect on weight, will matter as well, he said.
“Dulaglutide should be well-positioned in the marketplace by virtue of attributes like its once-weekly dosing and its small needle size,” Anderson said in a note to clients, comparing it with Victoza’s daily dosing and Bydureon’s bigger needle.
Lilly shares traded up 45 cents Tuesday to close at $58.48. The stock’s 52-week high is $58.90 a share.
Call Star reporter Jeff Swiatek at (317) 444-6483. Follow him on Twitter: @JeffSwiatek.
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