The EU today gave AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb the green light to start marketing their blockbuster diabetes drug Onglyza, laying the stage for a head-to-head battle with Merck's Januvia for market supremacy. And Boehringer Ingelheim is following close behind, angling to position its late-stage diabetes drug in what is shaping up as a fiercely competitive market.
Boehringer medical affairs chief Klaus Dugi tells Bloomberg that the company is under no illusions just how hard it will be to grab market share from a well-established Januvia and the highly anticipated Onglyza. Both are new generation DPP-4 inhibitors, like Boehringer's linagliptin, designed to spur insulin production in patients. "The big challenge will be that by the time linagliptin comes to the market, prescribers will have four to five years of experience with Januvia," Dugi says. "It will be an uphill battle to convince them of the benefits of linagliptin."
If Boehringer does win an approval on schedule next year, Dugi adds, it will have one big advantage: Doctors won't have to test patients with kidney problems to determine the right dose of the drug. And if physicians can avoid having to test patients, they may be more inclined to prescribe the therapy. A fourth quarter launch of Onglyza, meanwhile, is planned in the EU in the fourth quarter.