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Sanofi stands up for diabetes therapy in crowded GLP-1 contest

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Sanofi ($SNY) is making a case for why its experimental diabetes drug Lyxumia stands out from existing GLP-1 therapies, as the French drug giant eyes the new med to build up its Lantus-led diabetes franchise amid relentless competition. The drugmaker's new med faces obvious comparisons with Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) Byetta, for instance.

Sanofi diabetes chief Pierce Chancel has jumped to the defense of Lyxumia this week at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes meeting in Berlin, presenting the drug as a safer alternative to Byetta and one that requires one injection per day, rather than two like Byetta does, Bloomberg reports. Yet not everyone is as confident that regulators will agree with the once-daily administration of Sanofi's contender, and the news service notes that the med could be the fourth drug in its class to reach the market. 

Patients with Type II diabetes take GLP-1 drugs to spur cells in the pancreas to produce insulin and help them control their blood-sugar levels. Bristol-Myers gained Byetta and the once-weekly version of the drug called Bydureon in its $5.3 billion buyout this summer of Amylin Pharmaceuticals, which had attracted significant interest from other diabetes players in large part because of those two products. Novo Nordisk ($NVO), the Danish insulin maker, also owns a piece of this market with its once-daily drug, Victoza.

Sanofi is playing catch with plans to ask U.S. regulators for approval of Lyxumia later this year in parallel with similar efforts in Europe, the news service reported. Meantime, analysts are critical of just how differentiated the drug is from the rest.

"Lyxumia is taking time to clearly stand out," Eric Le Berrigaud, an analyst at Bryan Garnier & Co. in Paris, wrote in a Sept. 28 note, as quoted by Bloomberg. "It is vital for Sanofi to successfully launch Lyxumia in order to build on and around Lantus."

- check out Bloomberg's article

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