About one month after a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel said the diabetes pill Avandia should remain on the market but with strict warnings about heart attack risk, a similar pill sold by a Deerfield-based drugmaker is holding its own in the market, according to a new analysis.
Actos, sold by Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America Inc., is still garnering nearly 20 percent of prescriptions written for new diabetes patients, according to an analysis of prescriptions by primary care doctors through Aug. 24. The analysis was done by pharmaceutical market research firm Impact Rx Inc. of Mt. Laurel, N.J.
By comparison, 5 percent or fewer of U.S. primary care doctors started patients on Avandia in the last month, according to the analysis.
On July 30 an FDA advisory panel found that people who use the once-popular diabetes pill Avandia face an increased risk of heart attack and urged the agency to place its strictest warning, a "black box" label, on the drug.
The FDA usually follows the advice of its panels, but is not bound to do so.
"The fact that Avandia was not pulled was not necessarily a bad thing for Actos," said Patrick Angelast ro, senior vice president of Impact Rx, which compiles its market share data from a database of nearly 2,000 physicians. "It looks like Actos is not getting hurt a whole lot by a presumed class effect."
Actos was not found to have similar risks by the panel.
Avandia and Actos work by increasing the body's sensitivity to insulin and are the only two drugs in the class of diabetes drugs known as thiazolidinediones.
Actos jumped into the 20th percentile of market share from less than 15 percent share following a May study published in the New England Journal of Medi cine that indicated Avandia had increased risk of heart attacks. Analysts largely credit Avandia's problems for Actos' improvement in market share.
The stakes are high for Takeda because Actos generated the bulk of Takeda's $2.5 billion in U.S. sales last year.
More than 20 million Americans have diabetes, a disease that affects the amount of insulin and sugar in a person's body. The most common form of diabetes is Type 2, in which the body does not produce enough insulin or ineffectively uses insulin.
People with Type 1 diabetes produce virtually no insulin of their own.
The leading prescription by primary-care doctors continues to be for metformins, an older class of drugs that many physicians refer to as a "gold standard."
Metformins rang up 30 percent of prescriptions for new diabetes patients for the week ended Friday and have fluctuated between 30 and 35 percent since the FDA meeting.
Actos is in a close race for second place with Januvia, which is part of a newer class of diabetes drugs and had 22 percent market share for the week ended Aug. 17. Januvia, sold by Merck & Co., has also benefited from Avandia's demise. "Actos is vying for second place," Angelastro said.
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