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Novo Nordisk's Xultophy debuts in Switzerland

It is the first market for combination of diabetes treatments Tresiba and Victoza

Novo Nordisk headquarters 

Danish pharma company Novo Nordisk has launched its new combination diabetes therapy Xultophy in Switzerland, its first market.

Xultophy (formerly known as IDegLira) combines Novo's ultra-long-acting insulin Tresiba (insulin degludec) with its market-leading GLP-1 analogue Victoza (liraglutide) in a once-daily injection.

The new product has been tipped as a potential blockbuster for Novo, as it is the first combination of an insulin and GLP-1 receptor agonist to reach the market. Giving the two drug classes together improves blood glucose control, while liraglutide's profile helps counteract the side effects typically seen with insulin, such as weight gain and hypoglycaemia.

"More than half of people with type 2 diabetes on basal insulin do not achieve glycaemic control and have an increased risk of developing complications," said Novo's chief scientific officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen.

"The benefits that Xultophy has shown and the convenience it provides may help motivate people with type 2 diabetes to better adhere to therapy and proactively manage their disease," he added.

Other GLP-1 agonists can be given alongside separate injections of long-acting insulin, but Xultophy is the first to provide a fixed-dose combination in one shot that can reduce the injection burden in diabetics.  Analysts have predicted peak sales for Xultophy at more than $1bn.

There has also been anticipation that the combination product will be cheaper than giving the two drug classes separately - Xultophy's pricing in Switzerland could not be confirmed at the time of writing.

The launch comes at a time when Victoza's dominant position in the GLP-1 agonist market has started to look a little vulnerable, with long-acting drugs such as GlaxoSmithKline's Tanzeum (albiglutide), AstraZeneca's Bydureon (exenatide) and Eli Lilly's recently-launched Trulicity (dulaglutide) offering once-weekly rather than once-daily injections.

The Danish pharma company sees Xultophy as a way to defend its franchise and is also rolling out another Tresiba-based combination therapy - Ryzodeg - which combines Tresiba with a fast-acting insulin analogue (insulin aspart) - in its first world markets.

Novo hit a speed bump in its diabetes pipeline plans last year however when the US FDA turned down its marketing application for Tresiba on concerns that the cardiovascular risk profile of Tresiba may not be as good as rival long-acting basal insulin product Lantus (insulin glargine) from Sanofi.

The company is carrying out a large-scale study called DEVOTE in a bid to answer the FDA's concerns about insulin degludec, and hopes to launch the drug in the US early next year.

Article by
Phil Taylor

19th January 2015

From: Sales

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