Diabetes drug shows promise in late-stage trials

Mon, 11 Jun 2012
Two late-stage clinical trials in the United States have found that a drug for treating type 2 diabetes, canagliflozin, developed by pharma company Johnson and Johnson (J&J), can offer a better reduction in blood sugar levels than its rival, Januvia, from Merck and Co, as well as an older drug, glimepiride.

The tests also showed that canagliflozin, which is in the class of treatments called SGLT2 inhibitors, led to substantially more weight loss and far fewer hypos, an important finding as many of the older diabetes treatments actually caused people to put on weight. SGLT2 inhibitors are able to prevent the kidney reabsorbing glucose, and increases glucose excretion in the urine to reduce blood sugar.

The results from the two year-long studies are part of J&J's application for nine third-phase trials involving more than 10,000 patients to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and would be its first commercially developed drugs for diabetes patients.

Canagliflozin was shown to increase good and bad cholesterol and also offer a small but favourable lowering of blood pressure in both trials, but was also linked to increased rates of urinary tract infections and genital infections.

The main researcher on one of the studies, William Cefalu from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, said "There are clearly some unmet needs in diabetes to get glucose control. Hypoglycemia is a big limitation and right now we don't have effective weight loss therapy, so this class of drugs clearly provides clinical benefits."
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