Lilly's weekly insulin as effective as daily doses in studies

Lilly Biotechnology Center is shown in San Diego after cutting price of insulin

(Reuters) -Eli Lilly said on Thursday its once-weekly insulin injection, efsitora, showed blood sugar reduction that was consistent with commonly used daily insulins across two studies in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Lilly and Novo Nordisk are both developing weekly injections for long-acting insulins that could reduce the treatment burden for patients with diabetes.

Novo's weekly injection, insulin icodec, has been recommended for approval in Europe and is under regulatory review in the United States. Advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are set to meet next week to discuss Novo's application for approval.

The two drugmakers are also leaders in the market for obesity medicines, known as GLP-1 agonists, which help control blood sugar levels and cause the stomach to empty more slowly.

In one of the two studies, Lilly evaluated efsitora in patients using and not using GLP-1 therapies.

Lilly said efsitora was non-inferior to insulin degludec, sold as Tresiba by Novo, in reducing blood sugar levels in both sets of patients.

At the end of 52 weeks, patients on efsitora saw a reduction of 1.34% in their A1C levels - a marker of blood glucose levels over three months - compared with a 1.26% reduction for insulin degludec. The trial included patients who were using insulin for the first time.

Lilly plans to present detailed data from this study at a medical conference later this year.

In the second study, conducted for 26 weeks, both efsitora and insulin glargine reduced A1C levels in patients by 1.07%. Insulin glargine is sold as Basaglar by Lilly and as Lantus by French drugmaker Sanofi.

Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk together make up 90% of the U.S. market for insulin and have faced political pressure to make these life-sustaining diabetes treatments more affordable.

(Reporting by Bhanvi Satija in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar and Krishna Chandra Eluri)