Experimental Treatments Offer Hope to Diabetics

by Mark Benson on June 13, 2012

New treatments unveiled in conference

The daily challenge for diabetics is what drives many researchers and scientists to find better ways in managing a diabetic’s blood sugar levels. New experimental diabetes treatments are currently being tested to provide hope for individuals suffering from this metabolic condition.

Recent announcements at the latest conference for diabetes specialists in the United States have showcased results of the studies using diabetes medicines and insulin products. This venue holds the promise of billions of dollars in revenue for pharmaceutical companies that have their products in the market or start ups wanting to break into the market. The conference is held by the American Diabetes Association that was held in Philadelphia last weekend.

The last decade has shown an explosion of the number of companies making drug treatments for diabetes, the condition wherein the body does not produce or does not produce enough insulin to help metabolize sugar in food. Now, the number of diabetes drug makers has increased at the same rate as the number of patients. Current numbers estimate that there are tens of millions of diabetics in Europe, China, India, with 26 million of those in the United States.

The epidemic is exacerbated by the numbers of obese individuals in the world, as obesity is one of the leading causes for the development of diabetes. Nearly all of Type 2 diabetics are either overweight or sedentary or both. Type 2 was once termed as adult onset diabetes but current statistics have diagnosed the same in adolescents and even younger individuals. Type 1 diabetes used to be called juvenile diabetes, but some present their symptoms later into adulthood.

Diabetes in general causes life threatening complications, with many leading to death. These include blindness, amputations, stroke, kidney disease, heart disease and many more illnesses, as the high blood sugar levels result in damage to organs, blood vessels and nerve endings. In the United States alone, it is estimated that about US$200 billion a year is spent on diabetes treatment as well as costs incurred due to absences due to illness and premature death from complications.

It was also found by Express Scripts, a top prescription benefit manager, Americans spent more on diabetes medication for insurance compared to purchases of drugs for cholesterol control. According to Jefferies and Company analyst Jeffrey Holford, “We expect key diabetes brands and markets to exhibit sustainable high-single-digit growth.” The company is expecting to net about US$54 billion by the year 2020. He based his projections on an aging population, more reliance on health care and adoption of Western diets in emerging countries and increased use of new treatments and combination therapies.

Holford expects Denmark’s Novo Nordisk to remain amongst the top diabetes company in terms of revenue followed by Eli Lilly and Co. and then by Sanofi SA of France.

The conference further highlighted new treatments in the pipeline nearing approval for diabetics worldwide:

  1. Novo Nordisk’s degludec, the long acting insulin for Type 2 diabetics. Compared to Sanofi’s Lantus, this drug from the Danish pharmaceutical company was able to lower blood sugar levels during the night by 36 percent and reduced incidences of severe hypoglycemia. This drug is reported to remain active in the body for more than 24 hours even if patients do not take them the same time every day. The FDA was about to approve the drug for the US market by June 29 but pushed back the date to Oct 29.
  2. Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen Research unit has unveiled the results of the study on the drug canagliflozin, a Type 2 diabetes pill. This drug is part of the new class of diabetes drugs called SGLT2 inhibitors, which increases the glucose excretion in urine. Compared to the current standard Januvia from Merck and Co., a DPP-4 inhibitor drug that increases insulin excretion after a meal, Canagliflozin provides more promise for weight loss for Type 2 diabetic patients.
  3. Other companies have presented results on pain free insulin delivery and two devices that function like an artificial pancreas, through continuous blood sugar monitoring and insulin pump system to release the hormone into the body.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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