Eli Lily’s New Diabetes Medicine Sees Rising Popularity; Tough Times ahead for Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca

Published Date : Jan 06, 2016

The immensely competitive global pharmaceuticals industry is a battleground of multinational pharmaceutical companies who pour-in millions and billions worth of funds every years for the research and development of novel medications. The fear of novel medications being brought-in in the form of cheaper generics constantly haunts these companies, as does the fear of being downtrodden by innovative new alternatives being continuously flooded in the market that eat shares of old and once popular medications. 

Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca Plc., two of the foremost companies on the pharmaceutical market’s horizon are presently finding themselves at the center of a similar situation, at the hands of another medico giant Eli Lilly and Co. 

In a recent survey, it has been found that the new diabetes treatment launched by Eli Lily and Co., named Jardiance, is posing existential threat to rival drugs medicines in its class. The popularity of Jardiance has been bolstered by clinical trial data that denotes a reduction in 32% death cases caused by Type 2 Diabetes.

In a study that spanned three years of research, whose results were released in the summer of 2015, Jardiance became the first diabetes method to exhibit excellent ability to reduce deaths from cardiovascular diseases triggered by diabetes.

Jardiance was approved by the U.S. FDA last year. It belongs to a new class of treatments called the SGLT2 inhibitors, which includes AstraZeneca Plc's medication Farxiga and Johnson & Johnson's Invokana. This class of medicines is known to flush excess amounts of blood sugar from the kidneys.

Studies show that Jardiance now accounts for over 25% of all the new patients in the U.S. taking SGLT2 inhibitors, up from 15% before the trial results for Jardiance were released in August last year. The sales of sulfonylureas, an inexpensive class of generics usually taken by patients before moving on to costlier new medications, have also declined as the sales of Jardiance have increased. 

Eli Lily has stated that the positive results of clinical trials for Jardiance have not yet been included in the medicine’s label and it could take another year or even longer for medical societies to draft new treatment guidelines considering the results.

Once Jardiance gets the label changed by incorporation of the results, it is expected to become the leading medication in the SGLT2 class. The positive results’ label will also help in relenting the apprehension of buyers owing to the high annual cost of Jardiance, which falls in the range of $4,000 a year, by then and medical societies will start endorsing it. Tough times are definitely ahead for AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, and many manufacturers of generics.