ADA: Sanofi's Toujeo tops Novo Nordisk's Tresiba in tough-to-treat diabetes subgroup

SAN FRANCISCO—Sanofi’s Toujeo has been battling it out against Novo Nordisk’s Tresiba in the next-generation basal insulin market, but new data could give it an edge in one key pool of diabetes patients.

Over the weekend at the annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association, the French drugmaker showed Toujeo could best Tresiba at controlling blood sugar in Type 2 diabetes patients with moderate to severe kidney damage. Toujeo recorded a 1.72% reduction in HbA1c, a commonly used blood glucose measure, compared with a 1.3% drop for Tresiba.

And, importantly, Toujeo did it without any additional incidence of hypoglycemia, which “we were excited to see,” said Chris Sorli, Sanofi’s vice president of medical affairs and head of diabetes for North America.

“What the study demonstrates is that Toujeo is a very reasonable alternative in this subset of patients,” he said.

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The analysis, which comes from a head-to-head study dubbed Bright, is an important one given that “somewhere up to 40%” of Type 2 diabetes patients go on to develop kidney problems—and those patients are more difficult to treat, in part thanks to their increased glycemic fluctuations, Sorli said.

And the way he sees it, the data will resonate with doctors. “It’s been a very tricky population to treat, so they’re looking for any tools that are available to help maximize the efficacy benefit,” he said, adding, “I think the evidence from this Bright renal subanalysis will really help them consider ways to meet that unmet need in a beneficial way.”

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At least that’s what Sanofi’s hoping. The company’s been struggling in diabetes for years now, and it’s looked to Toujeo to pitch in as cheaper copies eat into sales of predecessor Lantus. Last year, Toujeo put forth an $840 million top-line contribution, but it wasn’t enough to fill the billion-dollar-plus Lantus gap; the blockbuster insulin’s sales fell to $3.57 billion from $4.63 billion.

Meanwhile, Tresiba raked in $1.22 billion in 2018; in its annual report, Novo touted a market-leading 46.4% share of the total insulin market and a 45.2% slice of the next-generation insulin pie.