Investors may not be interested in hitting the foreign stock exchange or buying an over-the-counter ADR in order to invest in Roche (OTCQX: RHHBY), but that doesn't mean that they should ignore the news coming out of Switzerland either. The company's new diabetes drug, taspoglutide, could knock down sales of several of the drugmakers investors may own.
Yesterday Roche posted a media release that said, "Roche announced today that results from the first five Phase III clinical trials show that taspoglutide has met the primary end-points of reduction in blood glucose (blood sugar) in these studies."
But close observers of the company already knew that.
Back in October, the company announced that taspoglutide beat Eli Lilly
Five trials, all accounted for. Why Roche is pushing the drug hard in the media, I'm not sure, but it should give competitors an idea of how in love Roche is with the drug and how much money it might be willing to plough into the marketing of taspoglutide.
There are still three more phase 3 trials to go. The competitive nature of the diabetes market is one of the reasons for the large number of trials -- the head-to-head trials should help sell drugs -- but we can also thank side effects of GlaxoSmithKline's
Taspoglutide, which is injected once a week, is in the same class of injectable drugs as twice-daily Byetta, once-daily Victoza from Novo Nordisk
Reading between the lines though, it's tempting to say that once-weekly Byetta might be superior, since Lilly and Amylin showed that it was superior to Lantus, but taspoglutide was only "non-inferior" to Lantus. Be careful though, until Roche releases the full data set -- probably at the American Diabetes Association meeting in June -- we won't know to what extent it's lowering glucose levels in diabetics.
Long story short, keep your eye on this one even if you're not invested.