Roche diabetes drug beats Januvia in Phase III

Roche rolled out data from a pair of Phase III trials of its experimental diabetes drug taspoglutide, saying that researchers have nailed down its superiority to Merck's blockbuster Januvia. The pharma giant also reported that the Type 2 diabetes drug bested a placebo and proved to be well tolerated among patients, but left a sour taste among analysts who wanted to learn more about its side effects.

Roche licensed the drug, which is injected once a week, from France's Ipsen. The latest data comes from the second and third of eight planned late-stage trials, as Roche collects a stack of data for regulators in the U.S. and Europe.

Analysts appeared happy to see that the drug beat out Januvia--which earned $1.4 billion in 2008--but were left hungering for more insight on the drug's side effects. New diabetes drugs like Byetta have had trouble gaining a significant foothold in the market due to frequently reported incidents of nausea and vomiting--the two most common side effects of the Roche drug. Bank Sarasin analyst David Kaegi told Dow Jones that the data reported by Roche today shed "little light" on the side effect issue. Analysts will be watching for that at an upcoming diabetes conference in 2010.

- read the story from the Wall Street Journal