Merck Reports – Januvia continues to roll

Merck Reports – Januvia continues to roll

When it comes to lucky streaks Januvia from Merck (NYSE:MRK) wins the golden horseshoe award. The drug has no direct competition and likely will not have any direct competition until at least 2010. Just as physicians were beginning to question the drug’s rather lackluster performance, the Avandia controversy comes along. Running out of therapy options and not quite ready to move the majority of their type 2 patients to injectable therapy, many primary care physicians selected Januvia as an Avandia replacement. In what could be another boost to the drug a week from today an FDA panel will meet to discuss the Avandia controversy. So it comes as no surprise that Januvia and Janumet racked up $168 million in sales during the second quarter of 2007 (Januvia $144 million, Janumet $24 million).

Looking towards the future Diabetic Investor sees sales for the Januvia franchise accelerating for two reasons. First, Januvia is approved in 51 countries and only launched in 25 of those countries. Second, the FDA’s upcoming panel meeting on Avandia will likely help sales as well.

As Diabetic Investor has previously reported Januvia’s actual performance in the field has been rather lackluster. Prior to the Avandia controversy we were beginning to see signs the Januvia sales were slowing. This was not unexpected as it appears Januvia has a high non-responder rate and when used as a monotherapy its performance is average at best. Everything changed when the Avandia controversy came to light. Initially it looked as though Actos would gain the majority of Avandia replacements however being from the same class of drugs as Avandia, many physicians opted to avoid TZD’s altogether and selected Januvia. Based on published data Actos does appear to have the same problems that have been linked to Avandia, still the drug is not free from side effects most notably weight gain and edema. This situation has left Januvia standing alone as the only oral type 2 medication free from major side effects. Add in the fact that Merck has an army of sale reps promoting the drug and you have all the makings of a blockbuster.

Later today after the market closes Amylin (NASDAQ:AMLN) will also report results which Diabetic Investor believes will exceed Street expectations. Like Januvia, sales of Byetta are also benefiting from the Avandia controversy.

One last item, Diabetic Investor would like to congratulate Merck on their decision to provide detailed sales data for their various drugs. This additional data will allow investors to get a clearer picture on how the company is doing. Diabetic Investor applauds this move.

David Kliff
Diabetic Investor
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