Following positive outcomes data, a new diabetes class is on the rise

SGLT2 inhibitors are surging. Eli Lilly shared in its first-quarter earnings call that the new type 2 diabetes treatment class is on the rise in both the U.S. and EU. New patient growth for drugs in the category is in the single digits year-to-date — but total prescriptions are up over 30% — according to Enrique Conterno, SVP and president of Lilly diabetes.

Eli Lilly co-markets its SGLT2 inhibitor Jardiance with Boehringer Ingelheim. There are two other SGLT2 inhibitors on the market: AstraZeneca's Farxiga and Johnson & Johnson's Invokana. Jardiance generated sales of $38 million during the first three months of 2016, a jump of 99% versus the same period a year ago. Jardiance was approved by the FDA in August 2014.  

Conterno told investors that growth may have started to slow last year, but it rebounded following the release of results from the empa-reg outcome clinical trial. The results of that trial showed, for the first time, that a treatment for diabetes could reduce the relative risks of cardiovascular death.

Access, Conterno noted, is also heading in the right direction. More than 85% of patients on commercial insurance and 65% of those with Medicare Part D coverage have access to SGLT2 inhibitors.

See also: New data sets up Jardiance to displace DPP-4 inhibitors

The SGLT2 drugs may soon uproot DPP-4 inhibitors — which first arrived on the market in 2006 with Merck's Januvia. Evercore ISI analyst Mark Schoenebaum wrote in August that “given the CV benefit, we expect doctors will be more eager to prescribe SGLT2s in front of DPP4s.”