FDA Approves New Type 2 Diabetes Drug

On September 15, I blogged about two drugs that Merck and Novartis were developing to treat type 2 diabetes. On October 17, the Food and Drug Administration approved the Merck drug Januvia (sitagliptin phosphate), a once a day pill also known as a DPP-4 inhibitor that helps the body lower elevated blood sugar levels. Mayoclinic.com explains that

Controlling your blood sugar is essential to avoiding long-term complications of type 2 diabetes. If you’re struggling to control your blood sugar with diet, exercise and traditional diabetes medications, Januvia may provide a welcome alternative. Ask your doctor if Januvia would be an appropriate addition to your current treatment plan, or if the drug could be used in place of the medications you’re currently taking.

A survey of doctors revealed that physicians intend to prescribe the new drug in lieu of an Eli Lilly drug Byetta that was launched in June 2005. Forbes.com notes that “Merck is expected to charge $4.86 for the pills, which are taken once-a-day [or $146 per month]. Older diabetes drugs can cost as little as 50 cents a day, according to published reports.” Drug manufacturer CFOs love this type of drug because the large population suffering from this disease would take the pills for a long time.