Drug maker Novo Nordisk has enjoyed booming profits from its injectable diabetes treatment Victoza, thanks to winning approval for a potent version of the drug, marketed as Saxenda, as an obesity treatment. But it’s new oral version of a diabetes drug from the same class as Victoza could send profits as high as $20 billion per year.
In the pharmaceutical industry, drugs that reap annual profits of at least $1 billion are called blockbusters. There is a special term for a drug that exceeds $10 billion in sales – super-blockbuster, says Seeking Alpha. These drugs are few and far between, and include the statin Lipitor.
Novo Nordisk’s latest diabetes drug candidate, semaglutide, was developed with Emisphere Technologies. It is in a class of type 2 diabetes drugs known as GLP-1 agonists. Others in this class include the brand names Bydureon and Byetta.
GLP-1 agonists work by stimulating insulin production in a glucose-dependent manner, such as when food is consumed. Semaglutide, the only non-injectable version of the drug, will enter Phase 3 clinical trials and, if approved, is expected to hit the market sometime around 2019 and 2020.
Like Victoza and other GLP-1 agonists, semaglutide side effects include weight loss, which means Novo Nordisk would likely pursue approval for the drug as a weight loss treatment. And if the drug company looks for other possible indications – such as prediabets and the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, then the profit potential skyrockets, Seeking Alpha predicts.
But one hurdle may be side effects. GLP-1 drugs, including Victoza and Byetta, have been liked to cases of acute pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas. The drugs also have linked to thyroid and pancreatic cancer.
Source: Seeking Alpha