Novo Nordisk has launched its diabetes drug Xultophy (insulin degludec and liraglutide) in the UK, following its arrival earlier this year in Germany and Switzerland.
Xultophy combines Novo's blockbuster GLP-1 receptor agonist Victoza (liraglutide) with its new long-acting insulin Tresiba (insulin degludec) in a once-daily injection for type 2 diabetes.
Speaking to PMLiVE at the American Diabetes Association's 75th Scientific Sessions in Boston, Novo 's EVP for China, Pacific and Marketing Jakob Riis said Xultophy was being given a “classic diabetes launch”.
Within the European Union this means coming to Germany and the UK first, with other countries following once their market access and reimbursement positions are clarified.
He added: “It's early days [with the Swiss and Germany launches], but we are very pleased. The reception in the market place has fully lived up to our expectations that there's excitement around Xultophy as a new treatment option.
“And, though it's still very early days, we've seen good uptake and that makes us very positive about the future.”
The combination will priced lower than the sum of its individual parts in the UK as it has in Switzerland and Germany. Riis said Novo planned to follow this principle for Xultophy's future European launches.
Asked whether Xultophy would erode sales of Victoza, which brought in $2.3bn last year, Riis said the two products would be able to co-exist because there would always be a market for getting 'the job done' with just a GLP-1 receptor agonist.
“In the long run Xultophy will not take sales away from Victoza, because the type 2 market is so big and we treat only a couple of per cent of patients with Victoza. So, we're not in the situation where there's not room for both brands to create a very, very strong position.
“We do see that some patients that have been on both an insulin and Victoza, some of those may be converted to get it in one injection. But that's only a transitional issue, in the longer run the two products will do very, very well side by side.”
The combination - previously known as iDeglira - received European approval in September to improve adults' glycaemic control in combination with oral glucose-lowering medicinal products when these alone or combined with basal insulin do not provide adequate glycaemic control.
It's European roll-out continues in the face of continued uncertainty about the product's position in the US, due to FDA approval delays for the Tresiba component.
US regulators dealt the company a major blow in February 2013 when marketing applications for Tresiba and Ryzodeg, which combines Tresiba with Novo's Novolog (insulin aspart), were rejected.
The FDA began a fresh review of the two diabetes drugs in April and the regulator is due to make a decision on their latest approval submission by 1 October.
Another in a long list of new T2 drugs introduced to the UK, with the present dietary guidelines the futures looking rosy for Big Pharma