Oral semaglutide has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels and hypoglycemia in people with type 2 diabetes at a similar rate to injectable semaglutide.
The findings mark another significant step towards oral semaglutide available to the public, which would make it the first oral GLP-1 analogue to be available in pill form.
Semaglutide works by stimulating insulin, suppressing the secretion of glucagon and lowering appetite in people with type 2 diabetes. The drug has been developed by Novo Nordisk.
In this six-month phase II study, researchers also found that those who took oral semaglutude lost more weight than those who took a placebo pill.
A total of 1,106 people with type 2 diabetes from 14 countries worldwide were involved in the study, of whom the average age was 57 years and average diabetes duration was six years.
Participants were randomised to receive once-weekly injectable semaglutide or once-daily oral semaglutide, with doses ranging between five subgroups. Another group received increasing doses of oral semaglutude, while the final group was given placebo.
The highest oral dose (40mg) performed similarly to the injectable form regarding blood glucose control, equating to an average HbA1c reduction of 21 mmol/mol (1.9%). . More than 70 per cent of those who took the oral drug experienced a minimum of five per cent weight loss.
Lead author Dr. Melanie Davies, from the University of Leicester, said: “The HbA1C reductions and weight loss were very impressive and similar to what we’ve seen with the weekly injection of semaglutide.”
Side effects between the two forms of the drug were also similar. The most common side effects were mild to moderate digestive concerns which lasted only temporarily.
Phase III trials have been underway for oral semaglutide for over two years, and positive results from these trials will be pivotal towards whether medical authorities approve the drug for market.
Last year Novo Nordisk submitted oral semaglutide to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for US and European approval in treating type 2 diabetes.
The findings of the study were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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