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Pharma launches anti-diabetic drug semaglutide in ‘game-changing’ pill form

Novo Nordisk said it had invested 15 years of continuous research to make the oral formulation of semaglutide into a reality.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: January 20, 2022 6:29:50 pm
The new medication has undergone 10 rigorous Phase 3a clinical trials across several countries including India, the company said. (Representational)

Novo Nordisk India has launched an oral formulation for an anti-diabetes drug that was available only as injections, and claimed the new drug can help better control blood sugar levels and weight in adults with type-2 diabetes.

Novo Nordisk said it had invested 15 years of continuous research to make the oral formulation of semaglutide into a reality. For this breakthrough, it received the Prix Galien Award in 2020, a prestigious award in the industry. The drug was approved by the Drugs Controller General of India in 2020.

Dr Shashank Joshi, a consultant endocrinologist at Lilavati Hospital, said, “Glucagon-like peptide 1 is a naturally occurring hormone and plays an important role in maintaining the normal level of glucose in the blood. Peptide and protein-based biological medicines are typically very effective, their only drawback being that they are delivered as injectables. This was a barrier to optimal diabetes management, as many people prefer pills over injections.”

Dr. V Mohan, of Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre in Chennai, said,“People with diabetes and obesity are at an increased risk of Covid-related complications and mortality. The availability of a drug which can improve both blood glucose and body weight will be like hitting two targets with one arrow. Having such a unique molecule will be a boon for people with diabetes, especially during the pandemic.”

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The new medication has undergone 10 rigorous Phase 3a clinical trials across several countries including India, the company said. The completed and ongoing global trials with oral semaglutide includes more than 10,000 patients, of which more than 1,000 are from India, said Vikrant Shrotriya, managing director of the pharmaceuticals company.

In India 1 in 12 adults (20-79 years) are living with diabetes. Fifty per cent of people with type-2 diabetes taking three or more oral anti-diabetes drugs do not achieve target blood sugar levels. Moreover, 77 per cent fail to achieve glycaemic goals. Uncontrolled blood sugar, excess weight, and increased cardiovascular risk further contribute to premature death and other diabetes-related complications.

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