Image courtesy of Kaiser Permanente

The drug: Lantus
Company: Sanofi
Estimated worldwide sales 2012: $6.12 billion

Sanofi's ($SNY) diabetes drug Lantus is the one to beat. At a recent medical society meeting, study after study pitted prospective drugs against the Sanofi treatment. And some did, in fact, beat Lantus. But though Lantus is sure to get some new competition, the rising tide of diabetes cases promises billions from the drug for years to come.

Right now, Lantus leads Sanofi's diabetes stable, with 2011 net sales of €3.916 billion ($5.07 billion at today's exchange rates), an increase of 12%. So far this year, the drug's growth has only intensified: First-half net sales increased by 16.5% to €2.346 billion ($3.04 billion).

For now, Lantus owns the long-acting insulin market. It has an 80% share, which is why so many clinical trials use it as a comparator. A would-be competitor from Novo Nordisk ($NVO) won't launch until next year, at the earliest, because FDA put the drug up for advisory panel review in November.

Lantus got another bit of support from a long-term study presented at the American Diabetes Association meeting in May. Data released back in 2009 suggested that Lantus might be linked with an increased risk of cancer, but now, a large study with 6 years of follow-up found no such link.

For more:
Sanofi stands up for diabetes therapy in crowded GLP-1 contest
Japan OKs Novo Nordisk's long-acting insulin Tresiba
ADA cancer-risk data clears Sanofi's Lantus
Drugmakers line up for tsunami of diabetes
Lilly takes aim at blockbuster Lantus with promising PhII diabetes drug data


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