Fighting An Epidemic

Forget swine flu, there’s a far more dangerous epidemic facing the world and it’s going to require a massive investment.

We’re talking about the diabetes epidemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 180 million people worldwide have diabetes. And they say this number is likely to more than double by 2030.

For the millions already struggling with the disease, a breakthrough may soon make treatment a little easier.

Biotechnology company Amylin said Tuesday it has asked the FDA to approve a once a week a treatment, a drug that’s based on its twice-daily injectable drug Byetta.

The advance is significant because right now most diabetics must take some kind of medication daily. The new strategy may substiantially change the way patients manage the disease.

According to CNBC Pharmaceutical Reporter Mike Huckman, if approved the drug could bring in a billion dollars a year in sales.

And he says most analysts weren't expecting this development for another month. “An earlier-than-anticipated filing might mean the timeline for potential agency approval of the drug also gets moved up. Most seem to think a decision could come early next year.”

The drug's competition would likely include Novo Nordisk's once-daily injection liraglutide, which is currently under FDA review

The U.S. market for diabetes drugs is currently worth about $5 billion per year.

> Click here for more from Mike Huckman’s blog, Pharma’s Market

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