Another week, another big medical society meeting sending shock-waves--good and bad--through the pharma biz. This week, of course, it's the wrap-up of the American Diabetes Association confab. With diabetes a growing problem both in the U.S. and abroad, the market for treatments is exploding--and so any news on new approaches and alternatives is bound to shake things up. It'll take awhile for the dust to settle, but in the meantime, we'll flag a few developments to watch:
- Takeda's Actos could be effective at preventing diabetes. In a study of patients with pre-diabetic symptoms, the drug cut conversion to active diabetes by 81 percent, researchers said.
- Sanofi-Aventis said that Acomplia, its weight-loss med, controlled blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes three times better than insulin did; the company plans to apply for a diabetes indication worldwide next year.
- A third big study--after the ACCORD and ADVANCE news reported yesterday--may help cut through the clutter on new ways to proceed with treatment, the Wall Street Journal Health Blog reported. To avoid the heart complications of diabetes, patients should cut cholesterol, control blood pressure, and avoid major blood-sugar drops--more than one of the latter doubled the risk of death over the seven-and-a-half year study. Plus, aggressive blood sugar control early in the disease may work wonders, but later on could be useless or even counterproductive.
- Merck's Januvia and Byetta, the Amylin and Eli Lilly med, have some competition breathing down their necks. You'll recall that Novo Nordisk released data on its once-daily liraglutide med suggesting that it outperformed the twice-daily Byetta. Januvia faces possible rivals from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Takeda Pharmaceuticals, which both released data showing their candidates at least match the Merck drug.
- Lilly and Amylin, however, struck back with news about their once-weekly version of Byetta, which posted favorable data during the meeting--showing that the less frequent dosing might even be more effective than the daily version.
- Merck, for its part, sought to cement Januvia's market position with a study showing the drug combined with metformin positively affected beta cell function, the so-called "holy grail" of diabetes treatment.
Those are the ADA highlights. Now we'll be watching to see how it all shakes out in the marketplace.