A recent clinical trial found that Novo Nordisk’s diabetes medication Victoza – an injectable GLP-1 receptor agonist – reduced the risk of cardiovascular episodes by 13 percent. The findings are a major boost for the diabetes drug, which is the second ever drug of its kind to show a cardiovascular benefit.
In 2015, Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim reported that their diabetes drug, Jardiance, reduced the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with type 2 diabetes by 14 percent, along with a 38 percent reduction in cardiovascular deaths. Ever since, other diabetes drug companies have been conducting their own clinical trials to try to establish similar cardiovascular benefits.
According to a Novo Nordisk press release, Victoza reduced heart disease-related deaths by 22 percent over the placebo. Despite the company’s unexpected 5 percent dip in stock price following the announcement, Novo Nordisk believes the positive results could boost sales of Victoza over its $2.7 billion in revenue in 2015.
In addition to Eli Lilly, Boehringer Ingelheim and Novo Nordisk, other pharmaceutical giants are quickly establishing cardiovascular clinical trials. Merck and Pfizer have announced that they will be enrolling more patients in a clinical trial studying the cardiovascular outcomes of their experimental drug, ertugliflozin.
The Novo Nordisk clinical trial of Victoza – named LEADER – involved 9,340 patients with type 2 diabetes who were considered to be at a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The composite endpoint for the trial included non-fatal myocardial infarction, stroke and cardiovascular-related death.
“We are very excited by the LEADER trial results that demonstrate a significant reduction in major cardiovascular events among type 2 diabetes patients treated with Victoza, including all-cause death,” said Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, executive vice president and chief science officer of Novo Nordisk. “For us, this marks the beginning of a new era where our R&D focus will go beyond glucose control.”