Shares in Novo Nordisk have risen after the Danish company presented positive mid-stage results on OG217SC, an oral formulation of its long-acting GLP-1 analogue semaglutide.

A Phase II trial compared once-daily OG217SC with oral placebo or once-weekly subcutaneously-administered semaglutide in around 600 people with type 2 diabetes treated for 26 weeks.

People treated with oral semaglutide in five different doses ranging from 2.5 mg to 40 mg achieved dose-dependent improvements in HbA1c of 0.7% to 1.9% after 26 weeks. Those on a dose of 1mg subcutaneous semaglutide or placebo achieved improvements of 1.9% and 0.3% respectively.

Weight loss

Novo also noted that from a mean baseline weight of 92kg, people treated with subcutaneous semaglutide experienced a weight loss of around 6.5kg, which was comparable to the weight loss experienced by the people treated with the highest doses of oral semaglutide. Those on placebo had a weight loss of just over 1kg.

Gastrointestinal adverse events appeared to be dose-dependent and were more prevalent for the highest doses of oral semaglutide compared to the subcutaneous version of the drug.

Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, Novo’s chief science officer, said the results confirm the potential of semaglutide both as a once-weekly subcutaneous injection (which is in Phase III) and as a once-daily tablet. He added that “this clinical proof of concept marks an important milestone for oral peptide therapy” and the firm will talk to regulatory authorities about whether it will progress OG217SC into Phase III as well.

Novo already dominates the GLP-1 market, with its once-daily injection Victoza (liraglutide). Investors have certainly got high hopes for OG217SC, with its US-listed shares rising 5.3% to $47.55.