I’d Not Bet On Intarcia’s Implantable Device Besting Merck’s Januvia® — Before 2019, At Least

To be sure, the just reported results look promising: using a matchstick sized implantable pump to release diabetes meds like Byetta® continuously, and silently.

The new tech has done well against Merck’s sitagliptin franchise — in early efficacy tests. The problem (as I see it) with the tech is that an oral treatment is likely going to be vastly preferred by patients (compared to any implantation), and compounding that, the SGLT2 class of diabetes meds are due to come online, and may well leapfrog this device, altogether. Merck has a bet in the SGLT2 class, via a venture with Pfizer, of course. Some of those competitors may come online in late 2016. [Intarcia is partnered with French megalith Servier, on this device.]

It is not so much that Inarcia will best Merck, today, as it is that other diabetes drugs are showing a cardiovascular risk benefit not seen in Januvia®, that is moving Merck stock today. In any event, a bit, from Bloomberg Biz, then:

. . . .Intarcia’s pump is implanted under the skin for up to a year and continuously delivers a diabetes drug known as a GLP-1 receptor agonist. The pump reduced a measure of blood glucose by 1.5 percentage points, compared with 0.8 percentage point for Januvia, in a yearlong study of 535 patients, the company said Tuesday in a statement. The device also led to an average weight loss of 4 kilograms (9 pounds), compared with a loss of 1.3 kilograms in the patients taking Januvia.

Intarcia, a closely held company backed by venture-capital firms including New Enterprise Associates Inc. and Venrock, is seeking to challenge the crowded field of type 2 diabetes treatments with its device, called ITCA 650. . . .

And so — the 4 per cent sacking of Merck’s NYSE price seems. . . a little overwrought, to my experienced eye. Onward!

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