Lilly says once-weekly Byetta beats competitors-WEB ONLY

Eli Lilly and Co. and two drug-development partners said a once-weekly version of the diabetes medicine Byetta proved better at lowering patients’ blood sugar than two competing drugs.

Lilly is working with California-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Massachusetts-based Alkermes Inc. to bring once-weekly Byetta, also called exanatide, to market by 2010.

The drug is currently available as a twice-daily injection. The drug has been a rising star for Lilly, increasing worldwide sales by 16 percent last year to $751 billion. Lilly splits that revenue with Amylin.

But Byetta sales have been slowed by concerns about pancreatitis raised last year by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In the latest study, researchers compared once-weekly Byetta against the drugs Januvia and Actos by giving one of the three drugs to 491 patients with Type 2 diabetes who already were taking the diabetes pill metformin.

After 26 weeks, patients taking Byetta saw their level of A1C, a measure of blood sugar, drop 1.7 percentage points. Patients taking Januvia experienced a 1-percentage-point decline and those taking Actos saw a 1.4-percentage-point decrease.

Patients on Byetta also lost 6.2 pounds, on average, which was more weight loss than patients on the other drugs experienced.

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