Drug maker Merck is putting most of its earnings “eggs” in one basket – Januvia, a type 2 diabetes drug – after its top-selling Singular went off patent protection and generic competition moved in. However analysts are unsure Januvia can fill the $1 billion Singular has left behind.
Januvia is in a class of type 2 diabetes medications known as DPP-4 drugs. It works by inhibiting the action of the DDP-4 enzyme. It is designed to reduce blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.
The drug goes head-to-head with Onglyza, which got off to a slow start but has since gained momentum in the market. Januvia also faces competition from the diabetes drug Actos especially now that less expensive generic versions are available. But since Actos has been associated with bladder cancer, the drug is considered less favorable.
Januvia comes in three versions. The base drug is named Januvia, but it is also available in combination with other, generic drugs. Janumet is a combination of Januvia and metformin. Juvisync is a combination of Januvia with simvastin. Both are medications for type 2 diabetics.
Januvia has been favored by doctors because it has a relatively clean side effect profile, and doctors hate to prescribe medications that patient can’t tolerate because of adverse effects. However, a new study has found that Januvia has been linked to acute pancreatitis and could possibly cause pancreatic cancer.
Source: The Motley Fool