Novo Nordisk spent $9 million to educate doctors about diabetes drug side effects

diabetes illus250x03 Novo Nordisk spent $9 million to educate doctors about  diabetes drug side effectsNovo Nordisk paid doctors more than $9 million to promote its type 2 diabetes treatment Victoza in the last five months of 2013 – the most for any drug during that time period, according to a ProPublica analysis.

Drug companies routinely spend money to physicians to speak at medical conventions and other groups about their drugs. And in accordance with the Sunshine Act, drug companies must share these physician interactions with the public. These costs do not include research payment and royalties.

“We just received a huge amount of interest and questions and need for education,” said Dr. Todd Hobbs, chief medical officer for Novo Nordisk in North America. The effect was, in part, to address safety concerns about diabetes drug side effects.

Victoza is a once-daily injection to treat type 2 diabetes. It is in a class of newer diabetes drugs known as incretin mimetics. Victoza has been associated with an increased risk of thyroid cancer. More recently, Victoza and other incretin mimetics such as Byetta and Januvia have been associated with a painful inflammation of the pancreas known as acute pancreatitis as well as pancreatic cancer. These findings have left many people questioning the safety of all drugs in the class.

Dr. Hobbs said much of the money to promote Victoza was aimed at answering question raised by health care professionals, in particular primary care doctors, about the benefits, risks and possible diabetes drug side effects.

Source: NY Times