A hot-selling drug for diabetes made by Eli Lilly and Co. and Boehringer Ingelheim just got another potential boost, as a government panel recommended that the companies should be allowed to claim that the drug cuts the risk of cardiovascular death.
But the 12-11 vote Tuesday by a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee was probably closer than the two companies were expecting.
The panel found that the drug, Jardiance, significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular death, non-fatal heart attacks and non-fatal stroke. The primary finding was driven by a 38 percent reduction in cardiovascular deaths. Heart complications prematurely kill many of the estimated 387 million diabetics worldwide.
The FDA is not required to follow an advisory panel’s recommendations, but often does.
Shares of Indianapolis-based Lilly rose 3.8 percent in mid-morning trading Wednesday, to $77.98 each.
Jardiance hit the market in 2014 as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes and was widely hailed by analysts as a potential blockbuster. The oral drug was shown to lower weight and blood pressure of patients in trials.
A study last year showed the drug sharply reduced chances of fatalities in diabetic patients at high risk of heart complications. At the time, the results pushed Lilly’s stock to its highest point in nearly 15 years.
The drug has a wholesale price of $343 a month, making it among the most expensive diabetes medicines. Still, the young medicine is proving popular among patients. Lilly’s share of Jardiance sales climbed 99 percent in the first quarter, ringing up $38.2 million.
"Despite significant advances in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease over the past several decades, more than half of adults with type 2 diabetes worldwide still die due to cardiovascular causes," said Dr. Jeff Emmick, vice president of product development for Lilly Diabetes, in a written statement. "The cardioprotective profile of Jardiance could provide an additional option to physicians to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death in their patients with type 2 diabetes."