More Marketing Wars: Lantus vs. Levemir

Amy Tenderich Health Guide
  • Reprinted with permission from Amy Tenderich of

    Another larger-than-life Diabetes Marketing War, this time without the romantic names:

    I wrote a post introducing the first-ever competitor to Sanofi-Aventis' long-acting insulin, Lantus. The new product is called Levemir, from Novo Nordisk.

    What I missed more recently was that things turned ugly back in March. Sanofi filed suit against Novo Nordisk in a New Jersey U.S. District Court claiming that Novo was falsely promoting their drug as effective for 24 hours, which Sanofi claims is not true.

    The case was dropped on June 23 for lack of evidence, so Novo can go on making its long-lasting efficacy claim.
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    Who's right here? Who knows? Novo's studies do seem to confirm its other two points of differentiation: that Levemir is well-absorbed by patients and causes less weight gain. Meanwhile a report released at the recent ADA Conference shows that a once-a-day dose of Lantus and Levemir have similar effects on Type 2 patients, but different effects on Type 1's. Lantus seemed to keep the Type 1 patients at slightly more stable BG levels throughout the day.

    But otherwise, "there is no difference in the time-action profiles between glargine and detemir with regard to the duration of action and mean metabolic impact," says researcher Tim Heise, M.D.

    And it's not really about who lasts a few hours longer, anyway, is it? It's more about who wins the marketing war.

    BrandWeek nails it:

    "The suit is another reminder that diabetes will be an increasingly aggressive arena for drug marketers. As the disease has no cure and requires lifelong treatments, and as America’s obesity problem is growing the total number of diabetics, the market will remain lucrative for the (pharma) industry."

Published On: September 14, 2006