This morning Amylin Pharmaceuticals,Eli Lilly and Alkermes announced the highly anticipated test results on their once-a-week, Type 2 diabetes drug. One analyst recently called this the most important biotech data of the second half of this year. Many expect the drug to become a multi-billion dollar blockbuster.
AMLN and LLY are partners on the twice-a-day injectable diabetes drug Byetta. Over the past few weeks they started doing direct-to-consumer advertising for the first time. And in the last week I've noticed that the campaign has escalated from a very basic brand-awareness tone to a more pointed approach where they're even mentioning how much weight patients lost in clinical trials.
I'm assuming the FDA is cool with that, but it does make me wonder. Analysts have long talked about how they believe a lot of people who are not diabetic are going on Byetta just to help them shed pounds. That would be what's called "off-label use" and Amylin and Lilly are prohibited from promoting it as a diet drug. Anyway, I digress.
So, the companies say that the once-a-week Byetta resulted in a greater reduction in blood-sugar levels than was achieved in a mid-stage test and with twice-a-day Byetta. Three out of four patients got their blood-sugar level below the recommended benchmark. There was a 30% lower incidence of mild, transient nausea which is a common side-effect with twice-a-day Byetta.