MSD readies ground for diabetes launch

Merck Sharp & Dohme is in advanced talks with agencies to provide it with representation on a new type-2 diabetes treatment.

MSD declined to reveal details of the pipeline drug, although PR activity is expected to be based around its pre-launch. The account is unlikely to involve any med ed promotion. The successful agency is likely to be revealed within the next fortnight.

There has been a buzz of activity already this year around type-2 diabetes, in which sufferers produce insulin but either cannot use it, or do not produce enough.

Diabetes is not currently listed on the MSD website as one of its areas of primary focus, but last September an FDA advisory committee recommended approval of Pargluva, an oral type 2 diabetes treatment. The drug has been co-developed by MSD parent firm Merck &Co and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Last week GlaxoSmithKlein launched Avandaryl in the US. It is the first tablet treatment to combine commonly prescribed Avandia and Amaryl. Separately, Pfizer's potential blockbuster Exubera, which combats both type 1 and 2 diabetes, received an official green light at the end of January. The treatment is the first inhaled form of insulin to go to market in the US and has also recently been approved by European regulators. Analysts have suggested Exubera will achieve worldwide sales of over £570,000 a year.

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