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Victoza launched in UK

Published on 09/07/09 at 11:05am

Novo Nordisk this week launched its much-anticipated type II diabetes treatment Victoza in the UK.

Victoza (liraglutide) is the first once-daily human Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue for the disease.

The drug works by stimulating insulin release when glucose levels become too high, while at the same time reducing appetite.

Therefore, while it helps patients maintain normal blood sugar levels, there is reduced risk of blood sugar becoming too low.

"Our goal for the development of Victoza was to find the best way to help people with type II diabetes maintain control over their glucose levels in a manageable way with reduced risk of hypoglycaemia," says Viggo Birch, managing director of Novo Nordisk UK and Ireland.

Victorza will be up against another analogue Byetta (exanatide), whose manufacturer Lilly is currently working on a once-weekly injectable version.

Another potential rival in pipeline is GlaxoSmithKline's Syncria (albiglutide), which fuses human GLP-1 to human albumin, and patients may be able to inject this even less frequently.

Trial results

Novo Nordisk's phase III LEAD trials suggest Victoza can also reduce systolic blood pressure and improve beta-cell function, allowing for increased insulin secretion.

"Patients with type II diabetes can be confident they are controlling their blood sugar, and may benefit from weight loss," said Professor Anthony Barnett, clinical director of diabetes and endocrinology at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust.

"This is an important advance for patients with type II diabetes, many of whom are already overweight.

"Additionally, the once-daily formula, independent of meals, should improve patient compliance and in turn clinical outcomes," he added.

The drug can be taken at any time of day and is approved in combination with metformin or a sulphonylurea in patients with insufficient glycaemic control despite maximal tolerated dose of monotherapy with metformin or sulphonylurea.

It can also be given with metformin and a sulphonylurea or metformin and a thiazolidinedione in patients with insufficient glycaemic control despite dual therapy.

The US regulator has yet to clear the drug for the market as its advisory body was divided over its safety profile.

The FDA's external expert panel was split when asked if thyroid tumours found in tests of rats and mice should prevent sales of the drug.The company stress there is no evidence to show this link in humans.

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