Victoza tops Sanofi's Lyxumia in trial, adding to Novo's GLP-1 arsenal

Competition is heating up in the GLP-1 diabetes market, and Novo Nordisk ($NVO) is doing what it can to line up data behind its long-dominant drug, Victoza. The latest: A study pitting the brand against Sanofi's ($SNY) Lyxumia (lixisenatide), which is lining up for an FDA filing this quarter.

And the trial paid off, Novo says. Victoza (liraglutide) cut blood sugar levels significantly more than lixisenatide did, with a 1.83% reduction in HbA1c for Victoza compared with 1.21% for the Sanofi drug. Both drugs were tested alongside the standard therapy metformin.

Victoza also helped more patients in the trial hit HbA1c targets of less than 7%, Novo said in a release, at 74.2% compared with lixisenatide's 45.5%. More than half of the Victoza patients pushed their HbA1c levels to 6.5% or below, compared with 26.2% of those in the lixisenatide arm. The side effects for both meds were similar, the company said.

Victoza has been a top performer for Novo since its launch, racking up impressive sales growth every quarter. Most recently, the drug delivered 22% sales growth for Q2--to $657 million--helping fuel Novo's overall revenue increase in the period. But the drug has lost a couple of percentage points off its market share, thanks to the arrival of Eli Lilly ($LLY) and Boehringer Ingelheim's rival med Trulicity, which has a dosing advantage; it's administered weekly, compared with Victoza's daily regimen.

Both Novo and Lilly say that growth in the overall GLP-1 market will make room for both their meds, and so far, there are no signs of a price war. But if Lyxumia wins approval on schedule, that could change next year. As a third-to-market drug, the Sanofi product comes in at a disadvantage, and the French drugmaker may decide that a little price competition--and exclusive formulary dealmaking--would be worth it.

Novo has its own longer-acting GLP-1 drug on the way--semaglutide--and it recently wrapped up Phase III testing. An oral version just moved into Phase III. But in the meantime, the company needs to keep its Victoza growth coming.

- see the Novo release (PDF)

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