Sanofi, Novo Nordisk, Amylin all tout diabetes treatments at ADA

With an epidemic of Type 2 diabetes creating huge concerns in the healthcare community, and providing big treatment opportunities, drugmakers are bringing on new treatments for the condition or looking for studies that support the use of the drugs they already make. And the American Diabetes Association meeting, which began over the weekend in Philadelphia, is where those studies get released and talked about. Here are some of those with the most interest.

Lantus from Sanofi, ($SNY), long the leader in diabetes products, was shown in a study to reduce blood-sugar levels more effectively than Merck's ($MRK) Januvia for patients with Type 2 diabetes. On average, the reduction in HbA1C rates for those using Lantus was 1.7%, compared with 1.1% for those using Januvia, according to the study released at the ADA and published online by Lancet, reports the Wall Street Journal. That said, the average rate of users having at least one episode of  low blood sugar was 46% among those taking Lantus, compared to 13% for Januvia users, and Lantus users were more likely to experience weight gain, always an area of concern for diabetes sufferers. Lantus is Sanofi's best-selling drug, with 2011 revenues of $4.9 billion, and one of its more important since its bloodthinner Plavix is going off patent. Januvia is one of Merck's fastest-growing products with revenues last year of $3.3 billion. Story | Release

On the flip side, Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk ($NVO) released a study showing that its long-lasting insulin degludec outperformed Lantus, reducing bypoglocaemia at night by 36% more than Lantus in Type 2 diabetes patients, Pharma Times reports. Novo also presented a study showing that its Victoza drug reduced the important HbA1c rates compared to Amylin's ($AMLN) Byetta and Merck's Januvia. The company says more patients also preferred to take its drug by injection than via a pill like Januvia, Pharma Times reports. Story

But Amylin had news of its own, with results also published in Lancet. This study found that  44% of patients taking Amylin's non-insulin injectable Byetta once daily, along with the common treatment metformin, had AbA1c rates of less than 7%, compared with 33% of patients taking Amaryl once daily with metformin, The Wall Street Journal reports. Release

Amylin and Alkermes ($AKS) also released a spate of news for Bydureon, the first and only once-a-week treatment for Type 2 diabetes. Among those were an analysis of 7 studies that showed in general patients taking Bydureon improved their nighttime, or fasting, A1C levels regardless of their weight or their blood pressure levels. Another showed improved results over four years of taking Bydureon, and another showed improved A1C rates and weight loss. Amylin is up for sale and a host of companies, interested in getting in on the Bydureon potential, have offered bids of up to $4.7 billion, WSJ reported last week. Releases are here, here and here