ADA: AstraZeneca's Farxiga cuts risk of diabetes onset in heart failure patients

AstraZeneca diabetes drug Farxiga last month scored a first-in-class FDA nod, winning clearance to reduce cardiovascular risks for certain heart failure patients without diabetes. Now, the British drugmaker is showing that Farxiga can actually help prevent diabetes in those patients, too.

A subanalysis of AZ’s Dapa-HF outcomes trial showed that among heart failure patients with a reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) who didn’t have Type 2 diabetes, the drug cut the risk of new diabetes onset by 32%, the company said Monday at the virtual annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association.

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The latest look at the Dapa-HF data only bolsters Farxiga’s distinction within its class of SGLT2 inhibitors. The broader outcomes trial helped AZ in May nab an FDA approval to cut the risk of cardiovascular death or hospitalization for HFrEF patients with or without diabetes. The go-ahead was a first for the class, which also includes Invokana from Johnson & Johnson and Jardiance from Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim.

While the nod is only a few weeks old, AZ has already seen “rapid uptake in the cardiology space,” Kiersten Combs, AstraZeneca's VP of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, said, calling the results that led to it “truly groundbreaking.”

“While it’s still a small total number of physicians prescribing, we are really encouraged by the significant adoption of the medicine in this patient population,” she noted.

That early launch success has come despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which has both forced the company’s rollout efforts online and burdened doctors—neither of which represents an ideal condition for a new indication rollout.

RELATED: ACC: AstraZeneca's Farxiga shows benefit in heart failure patients regardless of prior treatment

Over the last four months, “we have learned … a new definition as an organization of agility and flexibility, but also customer centricity,” Combs said. “We have pivoted to not only training all of our field force on the commercial side and medical side, but we are in the market with virtual engagements and really meeting the customers where they are.”

The result? The company is getting plenty of inquiries from physicians across cardiology, endocrinology and primary care, as well as “the scientific engagement that we’re seeing through our scientific liaisons and our medical field team,” Combs said.

“We’re finding the receptivity to learning about Dapa-HF and the revolutionary treatment… is really meeting an unmet need in their patient population today,” she added.