Liraglutide bests Xenical at cutting weight, blood pressure

Novo Nordisk has unveiled a new set of data demonstrating that its Type 2 diabetes drug Victoza (liraglutide)--with its NDA still on hold at the FDA--is far more effective than Roche's Xenical in cutting weight and reducing blood pressure.

Researchers report that after five months of therapy, patients taking the drug--while also exercising and dieting--dropped from 4.8 kilograms (10.6 pounds) to 7.2 kilograms (15.9 pounds) compared to 4.1 kilograms for Xenical and 2.8 kilograms in the placebo group.

"Overall, the results of this study indicate the potential benefit of liraglutide, in conjunction with an energy-deficit diet, in the treatment of obesity and associated risk factors," said the researchers from the University of Copenhagen. "Liraglutide offers a new mode of action for the treatment of obesity and improved efficacy compared with currently available therapies."

A safe and effective obesity drug has long been one of the Holy Grails in drug development--a journey marked by high hopes, huge market potential and serious side effects that have scuttled new meds like Sanofi's Acomplia and Merck's taranabant. Novo Nordisk has had to be patient with liraglutide, a glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue that inhibits appetite and stimulates the release of insulin when glucose levels become too high. The company originally submitted its NDA for diabetes on 23 May 2008 and landed European approval last July. The company expects a decision sometime this quarter.

- read the story from Bloomberg
- here's the story from the London Times