Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca have presented promising data from two late-stage studies for their investigational type 2 diabetes compound saxagliptin.

The results, presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes meeting in Rome, demonstrated that saxagliptin, which will have the trade name Onglyza, demonstrated that compared with placebo, the dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor produced significant reductions across key measures of glucose control when added to older treatments.

The first 24-week study involved 768 patients with type 2 diabetes who were randomised to receive either Onglyza in combination with a sulphonylurea or placebo added to a sulphonylurea. The second 24-week study enrolled 565 patients who were randomly assigned either saxagliptin with a thiazolidinedione or placebo and a thiazolidinedione.

The companies stated that the addition of Onglyza to either of the existing treatments allowed significantly more people to achieve target HbA1C of less than 7%. Both studies also showed that patients who took saxagliptin achieved improvements in fasting plasma glucose and postprandial glucose.

B-MS and AstraZeneca submitted files to the US Food & Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency this summer for Onglyza on the back of six Phase III trials assessing the safety and efficacy of the drug involved more than 4,000 patients. Some analysts have said that if approved, Onglyza could be a $2 billion drug but it needs to make up ground on Merck & Co’s DPP-4 inhibitor Januvia (sitagliptin) and approvals are unlikely to arrive before April next year.