FDA weighs approving diabetes drug

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CORRECTION: The original version of this report incorrectly described the diabetes drug, Januvia. It does not cause weight gain. The script below has been corrected.


TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: Some medical stocks went haywire this week as Wall Street investors laid bets over a Food and Drug Administration decision expected today. It's going to decide whether to approve a new drug for diabetes. From the Health Desk at WHYY in Philadelphia, Gregory Warner reports.


Gregory Warner: The Drug called Byetta LAR is a long-acting version of a drug already on the market. But diabetics could inject this one once a week, rather than twice a day.

Joshua Schimmer is a biotech analyst at Leerink Swan.

JOSHUA SCHIMMER: It's once a week, it's very efficatious, right now the biggest knock on it is that it's not the easiest drug to administer.

And Schimmer says in the multi-billion dollar diabetes market, convenience is king. That's made another drug Januvia, a $2 billion seller. That's a pill. But it doesn't work for advanced cases. Byetta works for more people, and reduces appetite. Its drawback is its big needle.

Eugenio Cersosimo is an endocrinologist at the University of Texas. He says doctors may not want to prescribe it.

EUGENIO CERSOSIMO: They don't have the time to explain how to inject, how to adjust, how to do this, how to do that.

So if the FDA approves it, Byetta's success will depend on convincing diabetics and doctors that one big shot a week is worth it.

In Philadelphia, I'm Gregory Warner for Marketplace.

About the author

Gregory Warner is a senior reporter covering the economics and business of healthcare for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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