To no one's surprise, the FDA has rejected dapagliflozin, an SGLT2 inhibitor for diabetes. The advisory panel voted it down back during the summer, and the agency has asked AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) to provide more safety data. As it stands, the increased risk of bladder and breast cancer (small but significant) that was seen in the clinic just outweighs the drug's benefits.
That's the sodium-glucose cotransporter 2, and what it does normally is reabsorb glucose in the kidney to keep it from going on into the urine and being lost. It's been the subject of quite a bit of drug development over the last few years, with the thought being that spilling glucose out of the bloodstream, as an adjunct to other diabetes therapy, might be more of a feature than a bug.
Not with that safety profile, though. And since this compound has been through nearly a dozen different advanced trials in the clinic, I really don't see how anyone's going to be able to provide any safety data at this point to change anyone's mind about it. Type II diabetes is an area with a lot of treatment options, and while all of them have their advantages and disadvantages, taken together, there's quite a bit than can be done. So if you're going to enter a crowded field like this, a new mechanism is a good idea (thus SGLT2). But you're also up against a lot of things that have proven themselves in the real world, some of them for a long time now, so your safety profile has to be above reproach.
Canagliflozin, from J&J (NYSE:JNJ), is still out there in the clinic, and you can bet that the folks there will be digging through the data from every direction. Are dapagliflozin's problems mechanism-related, or not? Would you care to spend nine figures to find out? That's how we do it around here. . .