EASD: Novo's Ozempic tops Victoza, J&J's Invokana in double head-to-head win

BARCELONA—Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic is off to a blazing start, and the company just threw more fuel on the fire with a pair of trial wins.

Ozempic (semaglutide) topped both SGLT2 drug Invokana from Johnson & Johnson and Novo’s own GLP-1 drug Victoza in head-to-head phase 3 contests, the Danish drugmaker said Tuesday at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) annual meeting.

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In the Invokana matchup, Ozempic posted a 1.5% reduction on average in HbA1C, a commonly used measure of blood glucose, compared with Invokana’s 1% at the 52-week-mark, Novo said. Further, 66.1% of those receiving Ozempic hit their blood sugar target of 7% or less while just 45.1% of Invokana patients could say the same.

On top of that, Ozempic also spurred bigger weight-loss numbers, with patients losing an average 5.3 kg on Ozempic versus 4.2 kg on Invokana.

But that’s more a reflection of Ozempic's strength than anything else, Novo’s chief scientific officer, Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, said.

Invokana “actually did quite well in the trial” and it’s a “very good and valid and worthy product,” he said. But the win for Ozempic “is what you would expect of a superior agent like semaglutide.”

“These are two drug classes that are in it for the long haul, and they ideally should be used in combination,” he added.

On the Victoza side, Ozempic put up an average 1.7% reduction in HbA1c, compared with the elder drug’s 1%. Some 80% of Ozempic patients got below the 7% HbA1C threshold, blowing Victoza’s 46% out of the water. And once again, Ozempic tallied a win in the weight-loss category, too, helping patients lose an average 5.8 kg versus Victoza’s 1.9 kg.

Novo isn’t necessarily interested in switching Victoza patients, who are generally happy with their therapy, over to Ozempic. The study was instead “driven by the European community,” which typically wants comparison data for market access and reimbursement purposes, Thomsen said.

“Overall, I think the trial … proves that there’s a lot of value for the money, so to speak,” he noted.

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The fresh victories should only propel Ozempic, which is on track to break the blockbuster barrier with $562 million in first-half sales. Only 25% of Ozempic patients came to the drug from another GLP-1 such as Victoza, meaning there’s room for the new data to drive additional switches.

And Novo is preparing to expand the class even further. It’s expecting approval for its highly anticipated oral version of Ozempic later this week, and the company is confident a green light will help it build on the 53% new-to-brand share it already holds in the GLP-1 market.