Novo Nordisk's long-acting insulin Tresiba has been approved for use by NHS Wales as an option for treating diabetes.

The All Wales Medicines Strategy Group has issued guidance endorsing the drug's use to improve glycaemic control in adults with type I or type II diabetes, when treatment with a basal insulin analogue is considered appropriate.

Studies comparing Tresiba to Sanofi's blockbuster Lantus (insulin glargine) showed that Novo's drug demonstrated a significantly lower risk of overall and nocturnal hypoglycaemia, which is particularly important as patients are less aware of the symptoms, while successfully achieving equivalent reductions in HbA1c.

Clinical data showed a 25 percent reduction in nocturnal hypoglycaemia for patients with type I diabetes taking Tresiba, while for insulin-naiive patients with Type II diabetes there was a 36 percent reduction compared to Lantus, the company previously said.

"Unfortunately, for many of my patients whose blood sugar levels are controlled with insulin, hypoglycaemia is a common and problematic issue," said Professor Steve Bain, assistant medical director for Research & Development for ABM University Health Board and clinical lead for the Diabetes Research Unit, Wales.

"Clinical trials have shown insulin degludec can help people experiencing hypoglycaemia, so today's news means that clinicians like myself can have added confidence in an additional treatment option to offer adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes."

More than 188,000 people are living with diabetes in Wales and a further 540,000 people are at high risk of developing the disease. 

NHS Wales is currently shelling out £500 million per year on treating the disease, which equates to around 10 percent of its annual health budget. However, 80 percent of this is spent on managing complications of the disease, which are largely preventable through adequate control of blood sugar levels.

Tresiba was launched in the UK in March 2013.