Bydureon takes on diabetes


The market for drugs to treat diabetes — especially Type 2 diabetes — has shown quite a bit of activity lately. At the end of January, the Food and Drug Administration approved Bydureon (exenatide), a once-weekly version of the drug Byetta, which was originally developed by Alkermes and subsequently developed further under an alliance between Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly that the two companies formed in 2002. In November 2011, however, Amylin and Lilly terminated their alliance in the wake of an announced diabetes drug partnership between Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim. Still, Amylin and Lilly agreed to share profits from exenatide drugs, and Amylin will make a $150 million milestone payment to Lilly if the Food and Drug Administration approves a once-monthly formulation of the drug.

The Lilly-Boehringer Ingelheim partnership also has been fruitful. In May 2011, the FDA approved Tradjenta (linagliptin), subsequently approving Jentadueto (linagliptin and metformin) tablets in January 2012.

According to some analysts, Bydureon could achieve annual sales of $1 billion. A Decision Resources study, released last month, found that surveyed endocrinologists would prescribe Bydureon to one-fifth of patients. “We expect Bydureon will displace Victoza (liraglutide) and will earn our proprietary gold-standard status for Type 2 diabetes in 2015,” Decision Resources analyst Christine Helliwell said.

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