The UK subsidiary of Japanese drug giant Takeda has launched Competact, its fixed-combination tablet for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, in competition to GlaxoSmithKline’s Avandamet.

Competact combines 15mg of Takeda’s Actos (pioglitazone HCl) with 850mg of the commonly-prescribed blood glucose regulator metformin in each tablet, with one pill taken twice daily.

Competact has already been approved in the USA (as Duetact) and addresses a market measured in the billions of dollars. For comparison, Avandamet (rosiglitazone and metformin) brought £1.3 billion ($2.4bn) into GSK's coffers in 2005, despite the latter having been subject to supply constraints - relating to manufacturing compliance issues at a plant in Puerto Rico - that led it to be temporarily removed from the market.

The new, second-line, fixed-dose combination treatment is indicated for people with type 2 diabetes who are failing metformin treatment, said Takeda.

John Pittard, a UK hospital practitioner, described the launch of Competact is "very good news."

High-risk, heavily-medicated patients can reduce their pill burden by 700 pills per year, with the new product, he pointed out, and the National Health Service could save over £50 ($93) per year on each patient switched to the fixed-dose combination.

Takeda noted that twice-daily Competact combines the most frequently used daily dose of pioglitazone with the usual maximum effective daily dose of metformin, and the cost of a blister pack containing 28 days' supply is £31.56 - the equivalent NHS cost of prescribing the two active agents separately is £36.09.

Takeda added that relieving the pill burden may in turn improve patient compliance. Unlike other fixed-dose combination therapies for type 2 diabetes, Competact is also simple to use, with only one dosage that requires no further titration steps.