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French drug firm buys rights to tiny type 2 diabetes device

The rights to a tiny implantable pump have been purchased by French pharmaceutical company Servier. The pump could have a significant influence on the way that type 2 diabetes is treated throughout the world.
Servier will pay $171 million to Intarcia Therapeutics, a start-up based in Boston. The figure could increase to over $1 billio, based on potential additional payments. The money gives Servier the right to co-develop the device for the majority of non-US markets, with the exception of Japan.
The device, which is the size of a matchstick, delivers a constant dose of exenatide for up to a year. This could transform treatment of type 2 diabetes, by countering the failure of patients to take injections or pills that are necessary for proper blood sugar control.
“When we talk to patients with Type 2 diabetes, there is a huge burden of the treatment for them on their daily lives,” said Pascal Toucho, Servier’s vice president, scientific cooperation and business development. He explained that the investment reflects Servier’s belief “about how important the innovation will be for patients and how large the potential might be if the innovation reaches patients,” he said.
There are 382 million cases of diabetes, around 90 per cent of which are type 2. It is often associated with obesity and poor lifestyle. Changing one’s diet and increasing physical activity are the most common forms of treatment, although additional medication is often necessary to bring blood glucose levels under control.
This is where the little pump could be so effective. However, it’s yet to be approved for sale, with the companies intending to submit it to regulators in 2016.

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