Eli Lilly and Co’s new diabetes drug has started taking market share from its rivals Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical firm said Tuesday.
A clinical trial showed that diabetes treatment Jardiance cut deaths in type 2 diabetics by 32 percent – particularly a three-year study that hailed the drug as the first to exhibit an ability to reduce cardiovascular death.
Approved in the United States last year, Jardiance belongs to the family of SGLT2 inhibitors, which flush excess blood sugar from the kidneys. This treatment group includes Johnson & Johnson’s Invokana and AstraZeneca’s Farxiga.
Growing U.S. Market Share
At present, Jardiance accounts for 25 percent of new American patients under SGLT2 inhibitor therapy, an increase from 15 percent share prior to the clinical trial data’s release back in August. Eli Lilly shared the information last Tuesday in a conference call outlining its earning projections for 2016.
Jardiance will remain the only SGLT2 inhibitor to boast of improved survival as Invokana’s long-term cardiovascular safety study won’t likely come out before 2017, while Forxiga’s data is expected in 2019.
Use of sulfonylureas, affordable generics that patients usually take before moving on to a pricier drug regimen, also declined as Jardiance figures took off.
Dr. Jason Gaglia of Boston’s Joslin Diabetes Center attributed the push away from the generics to risks of hypoglycemia or harmfully low blood sugar levels.
However, positive data from the clinical trial – which helped raise Lilly’s shares on Tuesday by up to 3 percent – is not yet printed on Jardiance’s label. "Once we get the label [change], we believe Jardiance will become the leader in the SGLT2 class," said diabetes head Enrique Conterno in an interview.
Medical societies will likely draft new treatment guidelines to incorporate the trial data within another year or longer.
Some insurers are currently discouraging use of Jardiance, which has an annual cost of $4,000 or way beyond that of affordable generics that are early-treatment staples.
Analyst Tony Butler of Guggenheim Partners, however, said these payers will likely relent given the label change and medical societies’ endorsement of the drug. He forecasted annual sales of up to $5 billion for Jardiance.
Profits will be split with Lilly’s partner, Boehringer Ingelheim.
In December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also approved Eli Lilly's diabetes drug Basaglar, a cheaper version of Sanofi's insulin therapy Lantus.
In the guidance call updating its investors about its 2016 projections, the drugmaker vowed to grow again after a half-decade of dropping revenue.
According to a statement, Eli Lilly shares this year are pegged at $20.2 billion to $20.7 billion, with earnings (excluding one-off items) at $3.45 to $3.55 per share. They were below average analysts’ prediction of $21.4 billion in revenue and $3.65 per share in adjusted earnings.
In 2011 and 2013, Eli Lilly lost patent protection for two of its leading drugs. Key drugs such as insulin Humalog and erectile dysfunction drug Cialis, however, raked in more than projected figures in the quarter ending Sept. 30.
The Indianapolis-based drug firm is pursuing cancer and Alzheimer’s disease projects.