Merck moves ahead in oral diabetes drug race

Merck gained ground in the race to develop a new oral diabetes treatment yesterday when the FDA agreed to review the drugmaker’s NDA for its experimental drug Januvia. If approved, Januvia would be the first in a new class of oral treatments for Type 2 diabetes, called DPP-4 that works by enhancing the body’s own ability to lower blood sugar. The filing puts Merck about three to six months ahead of Novartis, which is working on a similar drug dubbed “Galvus.” The Januvia application comes only months after Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb ended their collaboration on the diabetes drug Pargluva, amid requests from regulators for additional data on its cardiovascular safety.