Novo Nordisk launches Victoza diabetes drug

WITH more than 387 million people – 8.3 per cent of the global adult population – believed to have diabetes worldwide, and additional 316 million people (6.9 per cent of the world adult population) having impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), which can often lead to diabetes Type 2. Also, more than 592 million people of the world population are estimated to have diabetes by 2035 according to a recent report by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). Based on this statistics, it appears the disease each day gains momentum and this provide a worrying indication of the future impact of the disease as a major threat to global development. 

     But committed to helping patients in Nigerian and Africa to combat the disease, Novo Nordisk, a global healthcare company with a strong background in diabetes care and more than 90 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care, recently launched its diabetes management product, Victoza (liraglutide), a human glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue with an amino acid sequence 97 per cent similar to endogenous human GLP-1 in Nigeria.

     Speaking during the product launch in Lagos at the weekend, the General Manager, Novo Nordisk Africa, Mr. Ben Konate, said that Victoza was developed for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes mellitus and it is indicated for the treatment of adults with type 2 diabetes to achieve glycaemic control when diet and exercise is not enough, adding that Victoza represents a significant advance in Type 2 diabetes treatment because it effectively lowers glucose and it is associated with a very low rate of hypoglycaemia (low glucose levels). 

     He noted that hypoglycaemia has primarily been observed when Victoza is combined with a sulfonylurea or basal insulin. “Victoza is already available in more than 70 countries and real-world studies confirm and complement the glucose-reduction and additional weight-loss benefits demonstrated in people with Type 2 diabetes in randomised clinical trials,” he said. 

      “Like natural GLP-1, Victoza works by stimulating the beta cells to release insulin and suppressing glucagon secretion from the alpha cells only when blood sugar levels are high. Due to this glucose-dependent mechanism of action, Victoza is associated with a low rate of hypoglycaemia. In addition, Victoza reduces body weight and body fat mass through mechanisms involving reduced appetite and lowered food intake. It is not approved for weight management or for use in people who do not have Type 2 diabetes,” he added.

     Also speaking at the launch, Associate Professor and Head of the Endocrinology Unit at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Dr. Olufemi Fasanmade, said that diabetes is growing at an alarming rate worldwide. In Nigeria, 3.9 million people have diabetes with more than 95 per cent living with Type 2 diabetes. It is a progressive disease that if not properly monitored and managed over time, can lead to serious long-term complications such as blindness, kidney failure and amputations. 

    He said, “Victoza represents a new effective treatment option for physicians in Nigeria to help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood glucose levels, while at the same time reduce the risk of exposure to low blood glucose.” 

     Fasanmade noted that Victoza lasts for up to 24 hours and, therefore, patients can use it once daily regardless of meal time. “It is administered in a prefilled pen and is generally well-tolerated. The safety and efficacy of Victoza has been extensively investigated in clinical trials and it has more than 2.3 million years of patient use to date. Additionally, patient satisfaction with Victoza has been shown to be significantly greater compared to a commonly used oral antidiabetic treatment, sitagliptin,” he stated. 

For the national president, Nigerian Diabetes Association and Consultant Endocrinologist, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt, Dr. Sunny Chinenye, “In addition to its effectiveness in controlling blood glucose, Victoza has the benefit of weight reduction, which represents a breakthrough for people with Type 2 diabetes in Nigeria, in whom obesity is a common problem.” Adding, “all hands must be on deck as government cannot do it alone. “We have knowledge and skill, but what is required now is courage,” he said. 

    In 2009, Victoza was approved by the European Medical Association (EMA), shortly followed by an approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010, and in 2014, the product gained the necessary approvals and licensing by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in Nigeria. 

    With Headquarter in Denmark and approximately 41,900 employees in 75 countries, Novo Nordisk as a global healthcare company also has leading positions within haemophilia care, growth hormone therapy and hormone replacement therapy in more than 180 countries.

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