AZ's GLP-1 Bydureon and SGLT2 Farxiga are better together, PhIII data show

Farxiga

When it comes to controlling blood sugar in Type 2 diabetes patients, two drug classes may be better than one, AstraZeneca ($AZN) said Friday.

The drugmaker trumpeted Phase III results at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes’ annual meeting showing that the combination of GLP-1 med Bydureon and SGLT2 product Farxiga beat out either product on its own at cutting down on blood sugar in patients whose diabetes couldn’t be controlled with first-line therapy metformin.

Pairing the two produced a 2% reduction in HbA1c, topping the 1.6% and 1.4% drops that Bydureon and Farxiga charted, respectively.

And the tandem also beat out its component parts at paring down weight and systolic blood pressure to hit the study’s secondary endpoints.

Diabetes drugmakers are growing increasingly interested in the two-drug cocktail approach, with multiple companies assessing SGLT2/DPP-4 combo therapies. But AZ’s trial, dubbed DURATION-8, is the first to put a GLP-1 and an SGLT2 together, the pharma giant said.

AstraZeneca is hoping the data can eventually help it drive sales of both meds, each of which is up against some serious competition. Eli Lilly ($LLY) has been making a splash in the GLP-1 market since Trulicity hit the scene two years back, and Novo Nordisk ($NVO) is preparing to disrupt things with candidate med semaglutide. That prospect--which has already bested Bydureon in a head-to-head trial--slashed the risk of cardiovascular problems by 26% in results also unveiled Friday.

A lack of heart-helping data has AZ scrambling in the SGLT2 market, too, where Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim’s Jardiance has shown it can reduce the combined rate of heart attack, stroke and CV death. In June, the duo won an FDA panel’s backing to add a CV death claim to Jardiance’s label, and now the companies are awaiting an expected FDA go-ahead. AZ, though, won’t have comparable outcomes data in hand until 2019.

AstraZeneca isn’t just sitting around waiting on the outcomes front, though. Earlier this week, it announced it would launch Phase IIIb studies of Farxiga in chronic kidney disease and chronic heart failure.

- read AZ's release

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