Unprecedented results from a cardiovascular study on a diabetes medicine sold by Eli Lilly & Co. and Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH sets up a showdown with rival Novo Nordisk A/S, which will release data from a similar study on its competing drug next year.
Lilly and Boehringer’s medicine, called Jardiance, reduced the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths by 14 percent in a study of more than 7,000 people with adult-onset diabetes and a high risk of heart problems. No other diabetes drug has shown such a benefit, which has sent a “seismic shock” through the diabetes market, Bloomberg Intelligence said.
Lilly stock rose to its highest point in nearly 15 years Thursday after the company released the results. On Friday morning, the stock price had fallen slightly to $89.44.
Novo is conducting its own trial, dubbed Leader, on cardiovascular outcomes from using Victoza, and results may be announced as early as the first quarter next year, Chief Scientific Officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen said. Given Victoza’s superior efficacy in lowering blood sugar, positive results from that trial could push doctors to prescribe Victoza, an injectable drug, as an earlier option than it is now, he said. Victoza, which earned $2.4 billion last year, is now typically prescribed as a third or fourth option when tablet options fail.
“I must admit, it makes me very anxious to get to the Leader trial data,” Thomsen said in a phone interview from Stockholm after the presentation on Jardiance. The trial results that were announced yesterday will have “little impact on how we perform” with Victoza sales.
Sam Fazeli, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in London, isn’t so sure. Jardiance combined with other diabetes pills in the DPP4 class of drugs such as Lilly’s Tradjenta come close to the efficacy levels of Victoza. That could pose a threat by delaying the use of Victoza, he said.
Novo may benefit from the fact that its heart study is larger than Lilly’s with a longer follow-up period, Citigroup Inc. analysts said in a note to investors of Friday.
“The onus on Novo to post strong Victoza cardiovascular outcomes data in the first quarter now increases,” Peter Verdult, a London-based analyst at Citigroup, said in the note.