New diabetes drugs to end daily jabs

Two jabs a week may be possible for diabetes patients requiring up to two a day.

New insulins under development could slash the number of injections people with diabetes have to take.

These longer-acting basal insulins may only need to be injected twice a week, rather than once or twice daily.

If late-stage human trials currently underway are successful, these second-generation analogue insulins could be on the market in the next three years.

Novo Nordisk is developing two such products, which it describes as 'ultra long-acting new generation' insulins.

One has a very 'flat' profile - maintaining a steady effect over a long period - and is being tested for use three times a week. Another includes a boost of bolus insulin and is designed to be injected at meal times.

Both are being tested for type-1 diabetes in combination with rapid-acting analogues and for type-2 diabetes on their own and in combination with metformin and pioglitazone.

Head-to-head trials are also comparing these longer-acting analogues with biphasic insulins and long-acting analogue insulins.

These second-generation products have been designed to improve the way that insulin is delivered to the liver and thereby produce a flatter action profile.

County Down GP Dr Colin Kenny, former chairman of the Primary Care Diabetes Society, said current once-daily analogue insulins had proved useful in primary care because they have a good safety profile and are easy to initiate.

'Community nurses find them useful to reduce the number of visits they need to make to the elderly and housebound,' he said.

'They would particularly welcome ultra long-acting insulins, provided they were shown to the safe and effective.'

But he added: 'Evidence for outcome benefit over biphasic insulin or medium-acting insulin is lacking for the analogue insulins and they are more expensive so it is hard to gauge how widely these new insulins will be used beyond these narrow groups who have special needs.'

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