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Novo Nordisk launches first of its kind diabetes treatment medication



With a focus on innovating products that improve patients’ lives, Novo Nordisk India launched the world’s first and only “peptide in a pill”, oral semaglutide, a gamechanger in diabetes management.

Semaglutide, a GLP-1 receptor analogue (GLP-1 RA) – one of the drug classes to treat diabetes, till now was available only in the form of injections. This is the first time a GLP-1 RA has been developed in an oral formulation.

Vikrant Shrotriya, Corporate Vice President and Managing Director, Novo Nordisk India

“With a strong clinical profile, we believe, it has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of type 2 diabetes, given that millions of people do not achieve the targeted blood sugar levels with currently available oral antidiabetic medications,” said Vikrant Shrotriya, Corporate Vice President and Managing Director, Novo Nordisk India.

  Its launch coincides with our hundred-year centenary of insulin discovery, that changed the life of people with diabetes needing insulin. Likewise, we believe, semaglutide in oral form will transform the management of diabetes – demonstrating our dedication to advancing patient care through continued innovation.”

The product’s launch coincides with the company’s hundred-year centenary of insulin discovery that changed the lives of people with diabetes, he added.

Oral semaglutide is a co-formulation of GLP-1RA semaglutide with an absorption enhancer SNAC which protects semaglutide from undergoing degradation in the stomach like other peptides and enhances its absorption.

Novo Nordisk noted that it has invested 15 years of continuous research, innovation, and development to make oral formulation of semaglutide into a reality. It has undergone 10 rigorous Phase 3a clinical trials called PIONEER, across several countries including India.

The completed and ongoing global trials with oral semaglutide include more than 10,000 patients of which more than 1,000 participants are from India, the company said. In addition to the unprecedented glycemic control, oral semaglutide demonstrated unsurpassed weight loss and consistent cardiovascular safety in clinical trials, it added.

Dr. Shashank Joshi, Chair IDF Southeast Asia and Consultant Endocrinologist at Lilavati Hospital, Bhatia Hospital & Joshi Clinic, Mumbai said, “Oral semaglutide represents a game changing innovation for both patients and HCPs in the field of diabetes, with the ease of oral administration combined with the benefits of a GLP-1 RA. It delivers unprecedented HbA1c control and unsurpassed weight loss, with a well-established safety profile consistent with the GLP-1 RA class3-8.”

Dr. Vinay Kumar Bahl, Principal Director, Cardiology, Max Hospital, Delhi said, “Oral semaglutide has shown consistent cardiovascular safety (21% relative risk reduction in 3P MACE (non-fatal stroke, non-fatal heart attack, death due to cardiovascular diseases), (p-<0.05, for non-inferiority)) and reduction in cardiometabolic risk factors.”

Dr. V Mohan, Chairman, Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, Chennai said, “People with diabetes and obesity are at increased risk of COVID-19 related complications and mortality. 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.”

Oral semaglutide has been approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) in 2020.

Oral semaglutide, which is indicated for glycaemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes, is expected to be a gamechanger and a life changer in diabetes management. 

Globally, over 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. The rise in the number of people with type 2 diabetes is driven by a complex interplay of socio-economic, demographic, environmental, and genetic factors. Key contributors include urbanization, an aging population, decreasing levels of physical activity, and increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity.

Currently, in India 1 in 12 adults (20-79 years) are living with diabetes. On an average, 50% of people with type 2 diabetes (T2D) are taking three or more oral anti-diabetes drugs (OADs) do not achieve target blood sugar levels. Moreover, 77% fail to achieve glycaemic goals while majority struggle with a high average HbA1c of 8.6%13 uncontrolled blood sugar, excess weight, and increased cardiovascular risk further contribute to premature death and diabetes-related complication. Early detection and treatment are the need of the hour in effectively managing the increasing diabetes population and further reducing co-morbidities.

Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk is a leading global healthcare company. The company employs about 47,000 people in 80 countries and markets its products in around 170 countries.

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