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SCOTT JAGOW: Life goes on for Merck. Sure, the drug company is taking on thousands of lawsuits over its painkiller Vioxx, but it still has a business to run. Yesterday, Merck won FDA approval for a drug that could replace insulin shots for people with type 2 diabetes. Rachel Dornhelm has more.
RACHEL DORNHELM: Merck’s new drug is called Januvia and it signals a new class of pharmaceuticals to treat type 2 diabetes.
Merck is expected to charge almost $5 for the once-daily tablet, nearly 10 times more than some existing treatments.
Pharmaceuticals analyst Donny Wong says he’s keeping an eye on whether insurers will reimburse for Jenuvia.
DONNY WONG: Payers tend to be resistant to the very most expensive newest latest and greatest things, but one exciting thing that this drug class may possibly offer is the tantalizing possibility of disease modification.
That means in animals the drug has slowed the progression of the disease.
But Wong says it’s going to take some long term studies to prove it can do the same for humans.
WONG: If that can be demonstrated, then the payers will be more than willing to pay for this drug.
Health care costs from the complications of type 2 diabetes come to about $100 billion a year in the US.
I’m Rachel Dornhelm for Marketplace.
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