Takeda touts Actos as heart attack-free

When is the best time to hit your opponents? When they're down, of course. And you hit them where they're most vulnerable. It's a strategy that explains Takeda's new marketing press. The company is launching new ads touting its star diabetes drug today, saying, "If you have type 2 diabetes, Actos has been shown to lower blood sugar without increasing your risk of having a heart attack or stroke."

Sound like it's aimed at GlaxoSmithKline's Avandia? Bingo. The FDA essentially gave Takeda this edge when it required GSK to add new warnings of cardiovascular risks to Avandia's label. Though the wording was literally inconclusive, the warning is a vulnerability Takeda can now exploit.

The Japanese drug maker, though, says the ads are aimed at lifting the cloud of uncertainty that's lingered over diabetes pills since news of Avandia's risks started breaking in May. But that seems a bit disingenuous; after all, Actos' sales skyrocketed during the summer and fall as Avandia's went into free-fall. Before May, the drugs were, as the Wall Street Journal puts it, neck-and-neck.

- read this Pharmalot item
- see the AP report