Sanofi said its experimental diabetes medicine Lyxumia may allow doctors to cut a step in helping patients improve the level of sugar in their blood.
The medicine, one in a class of drugs that require a progressive dose increase at the start of treatment, reduced diabetics’ blood-sugar levels both when the dose was doubled after two weeks and when it was raised over three weeks, according to a 482-patient study presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes conference in Lisbon.
France’s biggest drugmaker is trying to show that Lyxumia offers benefits not available with other treatments from the same class to carve out a place in an increasingly crowded market. The medicine is in the final stages of clinical development while rival products by Eli Lilly & Co. and Novo Nordisk A/S are already on pharmacy shelves.
“The study confirms the drug’s easy-to-use profile,” Riccardo Perfetti, vice president of medical affairs at Sanofi’s diabetes division, said in a telephone interview. “It’s likely to win over physicians and patients. Doctors like what is linear and won’t be forced to do multiple prescriptions or see patients more than once to get to the ideal drug dosing.”
Lyxumia, known chemically as lixisenatide, Lilly and Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s Byetta and Novo’s Victoza are part of a new class of diabetes drugs called GLP-1 analogues because they mimic a hormone that stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin.
The Sanofi medicine also helped patients shed weight in the study dubbed GetGoal F-1, the Paris-based company said in an e-mailed statement today.
Age and Weight
“The results reflect Lyxumia’s potential,” Perfetti said. The drug “has demonstrated all the three attributes that can determine success: tolerability, efficacy and safety.”
About 346 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, according to the World Health Organization. Most have the Type 2 form of the disease linked to older age, excess weight and physical inactivity. The condition is caused by a lack of insulin needed to convert blood sugar into energy.
Sales of Novo’s Victoza more than quadrupled in the second quarter. Indianapolis-based Lilly and its partner Amylin this year got European approval for a once-weekly version of Byetta, a twice-daily treatment that garnered sales of $171.2 million in the second quarter.
Patients who begin taking Victoza and Byetta can’t start on a full dose, according to Perfetti. The amount of medicine gets increased over time to minimize initial side effects such as nausea.