Enhanced Long Acting Insulin to Challenge Lantus

October 4th, 2011

(From Bloomberg Businessweek) Drugs to treat diabetes, mostly injectable insulin, have become a $34 billion annual business crowded with manufacturers of relatively similar products. Novo Nordisk wants to stand out from the pack. Following the example of consumer product companies, the Danish drugmaker is betting that it can add product enhancements to basic insulin and command higher prices in wealthier nations.

Explains Chief Executive Officer Lars Sørensen, pounding his desk for emphasis: "A country like the US ought to be able to offer people the most modern insulins and not giving them Third World insulins." Novo Nordisk, which gets half its $11.1 billion sales from insulin, this year is seeking U.S. and European regulatory approval for its newest treatment, degludec, in a bid to unseat Sanofi's Lantus as the world's best-selling diabetes medication.

Sørensen says degludec is "the fundamental part" of a strategy to boost Novo Nordisk's sales by shifting patients in developed nations from older, cheaper types of insulin that must be taken just before mealtimes to more expensive chemically altered versions that are absorbed more slowly and act longer.

Degludec's advantage is that it can be administered at any time, providing diabetes patients with greater flexibility, whereas Lantus insulin must be injected at the same time every day, although not necessarily at mealtimes. Trial results presented at a conference in Lisbon in September showed that degludec works as well as Lantus at controlling blood sugar.

To read the full article on Bloomberg Businessweek, >Click here.<

New Ultra Fast Acting Insulin Does Well in Clinical Trials

October 26th, 2011

insulin syringe

Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc., a San Diego-based pharmaceutical company, recently announced that its new "ultrafast" insulin, PH20, worked just as well as Humalog in two Phase 2 clinical trials. PH20 is an insulin analog, a type of insulin that is not produced by the human body, but functions the same way as the insulin that the body produces.

The injectable insulin analog was as effective as another insulin analog - Eli Lilly's Humalog - at controlling blood sugar levels. In addition, PH20 was more effective than Humalog at controlling post-meal blood glucose levels. Rates of hypoglycemia were similar in PH20 insulin users, and the hypoglycemic episodes that did occur were generally mild and no more serious than those experienced by patients using Humalog.

Researchers studied the effects of the investigational diabetes medication on controlling blood sugar levels in two clinical trials conducted on about 220 participants. One study involved patients with Type 1 diabetes, and the other involved patients with Type 2 diabetes. There was a 50 percent increase in the number of patients who regularly met guidelines for healthy post-meal blood glucose levels among those using PH20 insulin injections.

PH20 insulin is delivered using rHuPH20, or recombinant human hyaluronidase enzyme. Much of Halozyme's work is based on the subcutaneous delivery of medications with rHuPH20, which the company says decreases costs, increases efficiency, and makes medication more convenient for patients.

Halozyme said that it will be pursuing worldwide distribution of PH20, suggesting that it may be partnering with a larger pharmaceutical manufacturer.