Diabetes Health Type 1 &2: Novo’s Weekly Insulin Now in Phase II Testing

Diabetes Health Staff

Even though the annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association (June 12-16) will be “virtual,” with presenters and attendees spread around the world and Zooming in via their computers, there are already some tantalizing hints about new drug development.

 Novo Nordisk researchers will present an update on insulin icodec, a long-acting basal insulin they are developing that has a half life of 196 hours—8+ days. The drug, which has now entered phase II* testing, offers the possibility of a once weekly insulin dose for people with type 2 diabetes.

The insulin is very concentrated, which means that even though it is injected once a week, the injection is not a multiple of the volume of daily injections a type 2 takes.

Novo currently is comparing insulin icodec’s performance against insulin glargine U100, Sanofi-Aventis’s Lantus®, which is one of the most prescribed basal insulins in the world.

Icodec will enter a market where Novo and Sanofi are already competing for share with two extremely powerful basal insulins, Tresiba® (insulin degludec) from Novo, and Toujeo® (insulin glargine U300) from Sanofi. Both insulins provide 24-hour effectiveness, and for now are the heaviest hitters in the diabetes drug market.

In a way, insulin icodec is the logical next step in basal insulins. With Tresiba® and Toujeo® emerging as the first 24-hour basals, the only room for improvement and innovation is to introduce even longer lasting drugs.

At this point in icodec’s development, its eventual cost and acceptance by healthcare insurers and providers won’t be determined for at two or three years. Still, it’s something to look forward to for type 2s who are tired of the unrelenting need for daily insulin injections—even ones that can last an entire day.


A GLP-1 in Pill Form

Novo also plans to present data on Rybelsus® (semaglutide) is the first GLP-1 receptor agonist in the market. GLP-1s spur type 2 pancreas’s into making more insulin, while at the same time producing fewer incidence of hypoglycemia than, say, sulfonylureas . Rybelsus’s claim to fame is that it is the first GLP-1 to enter the market in pill form (7 mg and 14 mg doses).  Other brands of GLP-1s on the market include, among others, Byetta®, Victoza®, Trulicity®, and Ozempic®.


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