UK patients with type II diabetes have gained another option to help control blood sugar levels with the launch of Sanofi's therapy Lyxumia in the country this week.

Lyxumia (lixisenatide) is the first once-daily prandial GLP-1 receptor agonist to hit the market, which, with its reported efficacy, low price-tag and potential adherence benefits could be an attractive option for patients and healthcare professionals.

The drug was approved by the European Commission back in February for use in patients with type II diabetes, to help achieve glycaemic control in combination with oral glucose-lowering products and/or basal insulin.

The decision followed the publication of late-stage data in October last year showing that Lyxumia can slow the process of gastric emptying, and thereby lower blood sugar after a meal.

Clinical trials also showed that a combination of the drug with basal insulin, plus oral antidiabetic agents (such as metformin), significantly reduced levels of HbA1c in people with type II diabetes, supporting the rationale for its use, Sanofi said at the time.

In the UK, nearly three million have diabetes, 90% of which have type II forms of the disease.

According to Sanofi, Lyxumia has the potential to save the NHS a massive £70 million over the next five years.

"Costing over 25% less than similar treatments and allowing for over a quarter more patients to be treated, it offers a new choice to doctors and patients, and provides the NHS a further option to improve efficiency" the firm said.

'Logical approach'

"The combination of basal insulin, which principally targets fasting glucose, with a once- daily prandial GLP-1 agonist (which principally targets post prandial glucose) is a logical approach to improving glycaemic control," noted Anthony Barnett, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Birmingham and Consultant Physician Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust Birmingham. 

Sanofi also stressed that Lyxumia may offer advantages over rival diabetes therapies with regard to hypoglycaemia. It claims that, compared to some of the other GLP-1 agonists on the market, the risk of low blood sugar episodes was reduced by a two-thirds in patients taking Lyxumia.

This could also give the product a competitive edge given that the economic impact of severe hypoglycaemia in the UK is estimated at £30.4 million and for moderate hypoglycaemia £41.8 million.