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One of Eli Lilly and Co.’s experimental diabetes drugs was as effective at lowering blood sugar levels as Victoza, the leading drug on the market. Indianapolis-based Lilly said its drug dulaglutide showed “non-inferiority” when tested against the strongest dose of Victoza, a best-selling drug for Type 2 diabetics made by Denmark-based Novo Nordisk A/S. The study of 599 patients examined the effect on hemoglobin A1c scores, a measure of diabetes control. Lilly said it would wait to disclose detailed results of its Phase 3 clinical trial of the two drugs until scientific meetings later this year. But the result is good news for Lilly, which is counting on dulaglutide and a few other drugs it plans to launch this year to rejuvenate its sales after the patent expiration in December of its top-selling drug, Cymbalta. Before the latest study, Wall Street analysts predicted dulaglutide could achieve $1.5 billion a year in sales. Victoza generated $2.1 billion in 2013 sales for Novo Nordisk, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and was the top seller in its class. Dulaglutide has already proved itself superior to other diabetes drugs, including metformin, Byetta and Januvia, in clinicial studies announced last year. Dulaglutide has been submitted to U.S. regulators for approval, with a decision expected by September.

Pharmacists would be able to substitute an interchangeable biosimilar drug for a prescribed name-brand product under a bill passed by the Indiana House of Representatives last week. The bill now moves to the Governor’s Office for consideration. The legislation, authored by Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, creates a series of steps to ensure the safety of automatic substitution of biosimilar medications. Senate Bill 262 includes five principles supported by BIO, the Biotechnology Industry Organization. Biosimilar drugs are generic versions of biotech drugs, which are developed from organically produced proteins. Traditional pills are synthesized from chemicals.

Louisville-based KentuckyOne Health, a hospital system that employs more than 14,000 people in Kentucky and southern Indiana, has laid off about 500 people to help reduce a $218 million deficit, according to the Associated Press. In addition, the company said it would not fill 200 job vacancies, to further reduce costs. Hospital systems across the country have begun slashing work forces to reduce bloated budgets after years of aggressive building, while adjusting to lower Medicare reimbursement and reductions in Medicaid funding.

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