Fresh off new Farxiga data, AstraZeneca diabetes push points up cardiovascular, renal risks

AstraZeneca is highlighting CV and kidney risks for Type 2 diabetes patients in new awareness campaign. (AstraZeneca)

AstraZeneca has been pumping dollars into studying its Type 2 diabetes drugs and their ability to stave off complications like heart disease and kidney problems—and its latest awareness campaign zeroes in on those very risks.

A tweet last week featured an embedded video starring a fisherman at sea who likens CV risks to an engine giving out, just as his boat loses power. The post was hashtagged #ACC, calling out the big cardiology conference held in New Orleans last week where AZ presented outcomes data on its SGLT2 drug Farxiga.

The fisherman says: “If you start to miss the warning signs, your engine could give out. That’s how dangerous Type 2 diabetes can be. It can lead your heart, your engine, to fail. Don’t come as close as I did. Know the danger before it becomes major.” On-screen text at the end of the ad reads: “Type 2 diabetes increases your risk of heart failure and renal disease.” The text then redirects to for more information.

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An AZ spokesperson said the education and awareness campaign launched late last year but is only in its initial roll-out. “The concept and messaging is new, but AstraZeneca has long believed in the importance of disease awareness and education efforts for patients,” the spokesperson said in an email.

While the "Know the Danger" campaign is unbranded, AstraZeneca is working to expand its label indication for Farxiga. It has published several positive studies in cardiovascular disease, with two as recently as last week at ACC. Competitors Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim's Jardiance and Johnson & Johnson's Invokana already bear labels noting their cardiovascular benefits. AZ is hoping for a similar nod later this year.

AZ also emphasized the importance of renal therapies in its strategy for its cardiovascular/metabolic drugs business, changing that therapy area name to CVRM last year to include "R" for renal, according to AstraZeneca’s announcement.

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“With our leading science and pipeline of potentially first-in-class medicines, renal disease is now a major component of our CVRM strategy to address the unmet need for CKD (chronic kidney disease) patients who have often faced a bleak future,” said Elisabeth Bjork, VP of CRVM, global medicines development, in a March 2018 post.

The drug maker is currently running a clinical trial to “evaluate the effect of dapagliflozin on renal outcomes and cardiovascular mortality in patients with chronic kidney disease.” Dapagliflozin is the generic name of Farxiga. The study began in 2017 and is expected to be completed in November 2020.