New diabetes drug ‘could save NHS £70m’

A new drug for Type 2 diabetes launched in the UK could save the NHS £70 million over the next five years, according to its manufacturer.

Lixisenatide, marketed under the name Lyxumia, is self-administered once a day using an injection pen.

The drug acts on a naturally occurring hormone called GLP-1 to help diabetes sufferers control levels of insulin in their blood.

At £1.90 per daily dose, lixisenatide is said to be less than a quarter of the price of existing similar treatments.

Health economists employed by the drug’s maker, Sanofi, maintain it has the potential to save the NHS £70 million over the next five years.

A head-to-head comparison with another GLP-1 diabetes drug showed that accidental episodes of abnormally low blood sugar were reduced by two thirds in patients using lixisenatide.

Unlike Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, Type 2 is largely driven by lifestyle and linked to obesity.

More than two million people in the UK are believed to be affected by the condition, and the number is rising.

Professor Anthony Barnett, consultant physician at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, said: “The epidemic of Type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related disorders threatens to bankrupt the NHS.

“Early and aggressive treatment is critical. The launch of Lyxumia, which is a once daily highly effective treatment for Type 2 diabetes, is an important part of an evolution of therapies which may help to combat the potentially devastating consequences of this important disease.”

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