With diabetes on the rise not only in wealthy, overweight nations like the U.S., but in developing countries as well, new treatments are expected to be important for drugmakers looking to beef up their sales. But what do you do when your new diabetes drug doesn't take the market by storm? Combine it with another drug, of course.
Such is the story of Onglyza, the Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMS)/AstraZeneca ($AZN) diabetes treatment launched last summer. By the third quarter of this year, Onglyza sales only contributed $47 million to BMS's revenues. But now, the companies have won approval of Kombiglyze, a once-a-day combo pill incorporating Onglyza and the commonly used diabetes drug metformin XR.
So, this is how BMS and AZ aim to capture a bigger share of the diabetes market. A recent Decision Resources report showed that Onglyza was already wooing patients away from its direct rival Januvia, made by Merck. And the Januvia-metformin combo drug--Janumet--is a twice-daily pill. Fewer doses mean more convenience, which can translate into bigger sales.