Novo Nordisk wants the heart disease community to join the diabetes conversation. As Type 2 diabetes drugs nab approvals for reduced cardiovascular risks—including Novo’s own Ozempic and Victoza—the need to communicate across specialties has grown.
To help bridge the gap, Novo Nordisk is partnering with the American College of Cardiology (ACC) in a two-year, two-pronged initiative. First, the partners will study real-world data to determine patterns and adherence to guidelines. Next, they'll explore how to help Type 2 patients improve their heart health, working through ACC clinicians and healthcare providers, Novo Chief Medical Officer Todd Hobbs said.
The effort is a “natural progression” of Novo Nordisk’s relationships built up in the cardiovascular community over the past several years, he said.
“We’ve looked at smaller cuts of research, like with Cleveland Clinic and others, that show there’s a lot of people out there with diabetes who really should be on one of the agents, either GLP-1 or SGLT2, that are proven to lower (cardiovascular) risk, and they just aren’t,” Hobbs said.
While not an explicit part of the study, COVID-19 has magnified the risks for people with diabetes and with heart disease. The partnership was in the works before the pandemic, but the novel coronavirus has made the initiative even more timely and relevant, Hobbs said.
The first part of the work—evaluating data assessing adherence to ACC guidelines among a cohort of people with CV disease—will be done within a year. The second stage will roll out specific treatment strategies to selected regional practices and hospitals, delivered through ACC healthcare ambassadors.
In January, Novo's next-gen GLP-1 drug Ozempic won an FDA to add CV risk-reduction language to its label, specifying the benefits for patients with Type 2 diabetes and established cardiovascular disease.
Ozempic launched in early 2018 and took off quickly, nabbing $1.64 billion in 2019 sales. It's expected to reach $2.64 billion this year.
Novo’s newly launched Rybelsus, the oral version of Ozempic, is currently being studied as a CV preventive for patients with Type 2 diabetes. The company's older GLP-1 diabetes med Victoza got a similar CV approval from the FDA in 2017 to add that it reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death.
While the ACC partnership doesn’t include any specific products, Hobbs said, “If we can highlight the guidelines, whether that’s ACC or ADA treatment guidelines, then our products will do well because they’re on the data.”