Shares in Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO) rose nearly 5% yesterday afternoon after the insulin-maker said that its once-weekly diabetes drug, semaglutide, succeeded in lowering glucose levels in a late-stage trial.
The 40-week trial enrolled 1,200 patients and evaluated two dosages of semaglutide in combination with a standard-of-care-drug. The study compared its drug against Eli Lilly‘s (NYSE:LLY) dulaglutide compound.
Nordisk reported that semaglutide was statistically significant in lowering glucose levels and body weight in patients with Type II diabetes compared to dulaglutide.
The company also noted that the number of patients reporting cases of diabetic retinopathy was low and comparable in both treatment arms.
“The superior glucose control and weight loss achieved with semaglutide compared to dulaglutide in this trial reinforces the unprecedented results observed in the entire Sustain program” EVP and chief science officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen said in prepared remarks. “We are excited about the potential of semaglutide to set a new standard for treatment of Type II diabetes.”
Semaglutide and Eli Lilly’s dulglutide are both GLP-1 analogues – drugs that trigger the production of insulin, while lessening appetite and food intake. Lilly’s Trulicity product has been a primary growth driver for the drugmaker, but analysts have suggested that Nordisk’s semaglutide could represent competition.
“While we project that Lilly will retain its leadership position in the once-weekly segment, Novo has made headway with its oral formulation that could potentially shift the market dynamics in its favor over the longer term,” Barclays analysts said, according to Reuters.
Earlier in August, Nordisk posted Street-beating second quarter results, lifting its full-year sales forecast despite lingering concerns relating to U.S. drug pricing pressures.
Last year, the Danish company saw shares drop more than 40% after it slashed its long-term operating profit forecasts, citing price pressures in the U.S. market. This year, Nordisk raised its full-year sales growth forecast in local currencies from o% – 3% to 1% – 3%.
Nordisk posted an operating profit of 13.4 billion crowns ($2.1 billion) in the second quarter, topping estimates.