Novo Nordisk's ultra-long-acting insulin degludec can provide control of blood sugar in diabetics as well as rival drug Lantus from Sanofi, with more flexible dosing.

Insulin degludec achieved significant blood sugar reductions in patients with type 2 diabetes even when doses were given once-daily up to 40 hours apart, according to data presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Lisbon, Portugal.

Novo Nordisk says that insulin degludec will be more convenient for diabetics as it can be taken at any time of the day, compared to Lantus (insulin glargine) which has to be taken at a fixed time.

The study showed that haemoglobin A1c levels, an indicator of blood glucose control, was reduced by 1.28 percentage points at 26-weeks to 7.2% with insulin degludec, which was comparable to Lantus, the biggest-selling insulin product in the world.

Fasting plasma glucose levels reductions were also significantly lower for patients on Novo Nordisk's drug compared to those on Lantus by the end of the study.  Both drugs were given once-daily in this study, but Novo Nordisk is also studying three-times-a-week dosing of insulin degludec in clinical trials.

"This study demonstrates that with insulin degludec glycaemic control can be maintained even if people unintentionally delay a dose or take their insulin at a different time of the day," said Professor Stephen Atkin of York Hull Medical School, UK, the lead investigator in the study.

Analysts have suggested that this profile could win the new insulin market share from Lantus, which had sales of $3.5 billion last year, and could achieve sales of $2 billion or more in the next few years.

The Danish drugmaker said it intends to file for approval of insulin degludec in Europe and the USA within the next few months, a schedule which could see it reach the market in 2012.