Jardiance, a once-daily pill launched in 2014 by Eli Lilly and Co. and Boehringer Ingelheim, already was on pace to break $1 billion in sales this year.
Now, with the latest news, it could get an extra kick.
The two companies announced Saturday that Jardiance is effective not only at lowering blood sugar, but in cutting the risk of cardiovascular hospitalizations or death by 25%, compared to placebo in heart failure patients.
They published their findings in the New England Journal of Medicine. They also presented results at the European Society of Cardiology virtual annual meeting.
The news could broaden the appeal of Jardiance beyond the diabetes world. Heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalizations in the United States, and the trials involved patients with and without Type 2 diabetes.
“Heart failure is a devastating and debilitating cardiovascular condition,” Dr. Milton Packer,” scholar in cardiovascular science at Baylor University Medical Center, said in written remarks. “Not only does it limit the quality of life, but it is also a progressive disease that requires repeated hospitalizations and is accompanied by a loss in kidney function.”
The trial measured Jardiance’s performance in reducing the risk of cardiovascular death and hospitalization, when added to the standard of care therapy, for patients who had heart failure with reduced amount of blood leaving the heart each time it contracts. The trial also showed Jardiance significantly slowed kidney function decline.
Heart failure affects more than 60 million people worldwide, with more than 1 million people being hospitalized due to the condition each year in the U.S. alone. Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump sufficient blood to the rest of the body. People with heart failure often experience breathlessness and fatigue.
Shares of Indianapolis-based Lilly rose about 0.6% Monday on the news, to $148.23 each.
Some analysts cheered the news and said Jardiance could represent a new standard of care for heart failure, and could be suitable for millions of patients.
“Jardiance for heart failure represents upside for Lilly, in our view,” Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Louise Chen wrote to clients on Sunday.
Jardiance already is one of Lilly’s fastest-growing drugs, on pace to break $1 billion in sales this year, which would put it into so-called “blockbuster” status. Last year, Jardiance rang up sales of $944.2 million. For the first six months of this year, it sold $529.5 million, up 22% from the same period a year ago.
Lilly has been studying the effects of Jardiance on heart failure for at least five years. In 2015, it unveiled early test results that showed the drug decreased the risk of cardiovascular deaths by 38%,
Jardiance belongs to a class of drugs known as SGLT2 inhibitors, which work by preventing glucose from being absorbed into the kidneys. Some drugmakers are hoping this class of diabetes drugs overtakes an earlier class known as DPP-IV inhibitors, which work by slowing the degradation of a hormone involved in glucose removal from the gut.
The Food and Drug Administration has granted Fast Track designation to Jardiance for the reduction of the risk of cardiovascular death and hospitalization for heart failure in people with heart failure.
Lilly splits the profits from the drug with German partner Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, the company that discovered the drug.