BioPharma Dive: On An Apparently Cardio-Protective Side-Effect Of Lilly’s Jardiance® — Longer Term Effect On Merck’s Januvia® Sales

While the markets gyrate rather wildly on concerns about emerging market growth — or the lack thereof, more precisely — we will take a moment to look forward, into 2016-2017, and predict that (if this preliminary study result holds up, upon peer review) Jardiance® may eat into Merck’s more than $5 billion franchise, here. The Boehringer Ingelheim/Lilly drug is an SGLT2 inhibitor, and Merck’s only current bet in this space is in a venture shared with Pfizer. That venture effort is not likely to reach market before 2018, in my estimation.

All of which is to say I think Merck would be quite vulnerable to product switching — away from Januvia® — should Jardiance turn out to provide a reduced cardio-vascular risk to most diabetes patients. [As we’ve reported before, repeatedly, Merck’s presently-available study data shows only that there is no increased cardiovascular risk with Januvia.] Speaking broadly, and oversimplifying, here — longer term cardio-vascular events are generally the proximate cause of disability/death for people with advanced diabetes. So it stands to reason that a drug able to mitigate that risk would be welcomed with open arms, by prescribing doctors. Here is BioPharma Dive‘s quite cogent take on it all:

. . . .Merck’s Januvia is often used as treatment for diabetes when metformin is not enough to control blood glucose. Diabetes is treated in a stepwise fashion, generally starting with metformin and adding on various classes of drugs over time. Given the new data published about Jardiance, Jardiance could become the go-to drug after metformin.

As mentioned in BioPharma Dive’s coverage last week, the positive news about Jardiance, which is an SGLT-2 inhibitor could bode well for the entire class, including Johnson & Johnsons Invokana and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Farxiga. . . .

And so (from a larger, macro- perspective) — in the longer run, the emerging markets will be a net positive for the solid counter cyclicals, like pharma and biotech. There may — as ever — be bumps along the way (as today is no doubt proving). . . Enjoy, one and all!

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