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New Diabetes Drug Research Highlights from EASD

By Ava Runge and Lynn Kennedy

Less risk of diabetes complications, lower A1c, improved weight loss and hypoglycemia; led by Novo Nordisk’s Victoza and semaglutide

The recent annual European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Conference brought global leaders in diabetes research, care, and advocacy to Munich, Germany for a week filled with learning about the latest and greatest advances in the field of diabetes.

Major diabetes drug trial news from EASD included:

  • Results from drug trials (SUSTAIN 4, 5, and 6) highlight reductions in A1c, diabetes-related complications, and weight in trial participants with type 2 diabetes taking Novo Nordisk’s once-weekly injection of semaglutide (a GLP-1 agonist), used to help manage blood sugars in type 2 diabetes.

  • The DURATION-8 trial examined the effect of dual therapy, consisting of AstraZeneca’s once-weekly GLP-1 agonist Bydureon (exenatide) and SGLT-2 inhibitor Farxiga (dapagliflozin) on outcomes in trial participants with type 2 diabetes. The study revealed greater reductions in A1c (by about 0.4%) and improvements in heart-related outcomes in participants receiving the dual therapy as opposed to either drug by itself. 

  • New data from the LEADER trial on heart-related outcomes for Novo Nordisk’s GLP-1 agonist drug, Victoza (liraglutide), demonstrated the drug’s positive impact on the heart and kidneys – especially in people without a history of heart failure or kidney disease – without negatively affecting the pancreas, a previous concern. In addition to lowering A1c and causing weight loss, Victoza demonstrated a 22% risk reduction of death from heart disease and a 22% risk reduction of kidney disease.

  • The ADJUNCT ONE trial explained why Novo Nordisk’s Victoza (liraglutide) was not advanced forward for people with type 1 diabetes despite positive A1c changes and body weight reductions. Several safety challenges emerged that outweighed these benefits, including a higher risk of hypoglycemia and more diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

The diabetes drug research results presented at EASD represent welcome advances for people with diabetes, particularly with new type 2 drugs demonstrating reductions in A1c, weight, and longer term diabetes-related complications. Expect to hear more about semaglutide, Victoza, and combination therapy – such as SGLT-2 inhibitors and GLP-1 agonists used together – in type 2 diabetes.

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