J&J submitted its next-gen diabetes compound to FDA last week -- backed by a massive 10,000 patient clinical trial data set. Today, at the ADA meeting being held in Philadelphia, the public got a look at how much stronger than Merck's (and many others') current stars this next generation candidate -- called by its chemical name, canagliflozin (not yet J&J branded) -- is likely to be. It seems to avoid some of the obesity risk present in the older medication regimes (or, it may actually be a weight-loss drug-effect -- etiher way, it is very good news).
This all may give Merck only about 9 to 12 months of remaining ascendency in the diabetis franchise -- for Januvia®/Janumet®. Per Reuters, today:
. . . .An experimental treatment for type 2 diabetes developed by Johnson & Johnson demonstrated greater reduction in blood sugar than Merck & Co's Januvia and an older common treatment, glimepiride, according to data from a pair of late stage clinical trials.
The J&J drug, canagliflozin, also led to significantly greater weight loss than both of the other drugs and far fewer incidents of hypoglycemia, or potentially dangerous drops in blood sugar levels, than glimepiride, a member of the sulfonylurea class of medicines.
Weight loss is an especially attractive effect as obesity is a leading cause of type 2 diabetes and some older medicines cause weight gain.
Canagliflozin, belongs to a new class of diabetes treatments called SGLT2 inhibitors that work by blocking reabsorption of glucose by the kidney and increases glucose excretion in the urine to lower blood sugar. . . .
This will be fascinating -- will Merck open off, on the NYSE Monday -- on this news? We shall see, but the combined franchise accounted for $4.68 billion in worldwide revenue in 2011 -- growing in the higher 30's -- as a percentage, year over year -- so that makes it arguably material, on the revenue-line, for Merck (on total sales of $48 billion, that's approaching 10 percent). The arc of this up-ramp is almost certainly going to drop-off, when the J&J candidate reaches market -- perhaps in early 2013.