Only two weeks to go (less!) before the American Diabetes Association conference in Washington, D.C and things are heating up. Diabetes continues to hit the mass market - on CNN just the other day (as well as the cnnmoney.com website), there was news of drug giants Merck and Novartis preparing to unveil clinical trial data for their DPP-4 inhibitor compounds, both of which are at the FDA as longtime industry watchers know. CNN, yes.
So the drugs were described broadly - designed for patients with type 2 diabetes - as were the companies, who were characterized as fighting viciously for their (rightful, it seemed to suggest) place in the $12 billion and growing market for diabetes drugs. Although Merck’s drug, Januvia, was submitted a bit earlier than Novartis’ Galvus, we would think both may go to panel at the same time.
Our takeaway from the clip was that Novartis' PR did a better job -- their main talking point should be, and was, that Galvus is a better drug. Still, score one for Merck as well, who managed to get across in this super-short clip that it plans to file a Januvia-metformin cocktail in 2007. Although this wasn't news to industry or to investors, we see it as a win since 20% of people of 20 have diabetes and many more than that have friends with diabetes - so word should travel fast. Witness what the New York Times piece in March did for Byetta - 30 days later, the article was still one of the very most emailed articles around (they don't show data over 30 days but on day 30 it was about #15 of all NYT articles in the last month).
Meanwhile, Eli Lilly will deliver results on Arxxant, an experimental treatment for diabetes-related vision loss. We wonder how this will do at FDA since only one (albeit large) trial was submitted (versus the more typical two) and since it did somewhat miserable in neuropathy trials. Although analysts are projecting modest sales because the drug has had mixed results so far in trials, we see the drug treating a (some?) major unmet need(s?) in retinopathy.
At ADA, there will be plenty of other junior contenders around to check out, but our money is on the Merck-Novartis fight as one event you do not want to miss. See next post for ADA poster fodder ...
Smith, A. "Drug giants fight for diabetes market". CNNMoney.com, May 24, 2006.