Sharpening Victoza's edge, Novo touts data in trial against Januvia, Byetta

Novo Nordisk ($NVO) racked up another set of positive data for its diabetes drug Victoza. The GLP-1 agonist bested Merck's Januvia and Amylin Pharmaceuticals' ($AMLN) Byetta once again, this time by helping more patients push their blood sugar levels below a target of 7%.

The Danish drugmaker has been working to sharpen Victoza's edge in the fast-growing diabetes market. Now that Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) and AstraZeneca ($AZN) have teamed up to buy Amylin--and thus to promote Byetta and its long-acting counterpart Bydureon--Novo will be facing a double dose of Big Pharma marketing, rather than just one, with Amylin's ex-partner Eli Lilly ($LLY).

So, Novo has presented study after study comparing Victoza with big competitors, such as Januvia, a DPP-4 inhibitor that's growing quickly. With one of those studies, Victoza won FDA approval earlier this year for a superiority claim. The official label now points out Victoza's edge in controlling blood sugar and body weight.

Keeping Victoza ahead of the game is especially important now that approval of its long-acting insulin has been postponed. Tresiba did win backing from an FDA advisory committee earlier this month, but its final FDA decision won't come till next year. In the meantime, Victoza has been delivering big growth to Novo's top line; in fact, sales of the drug grew 64% for the first 9 months of the year.

Meanwhile, Sanofi ($SNY) is nearing the finish line for its direct competitor to Victoza, Lyxumia. Eleven days ago, Europe's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use recommended the drug for approval, and Sanofi plans to file in the U.S. next month.

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