Johnson & Johnson's Invokana: Be Careful

Apr. 01, 2013 11:52 AM ETJohnson & Johnson (JNJ)AZN, BMY, GSK, LLY, PFE10 Comments

The good side.

Type I and type II diabetes are characterized by high levels of blood glucose leading to glucotoxicity which results in increased risks of heart disease, blindness and kidney damages. Type II diabetes represents 90% of diabetes cases in the US and affects 24 millions of people around the globe. The market was $20 billion in 2009 and might reach $36 billion in 2017.

Briefly, type II differs from type I diabetes in its etiology. Type I results from a primary default in insulin production due to an auto-immune reaction in 90% of cases, which in turn will lead to the destruction of a subgroup of pancreatic cells that secrete insulin. On the contrary type II diabetes patients first show unaffected secretion of insulin, but the cells around the body are insensitive to the message of insulin and blood glucose levels remain elevated.

While most of the competitors such as Pfizer (PFE) bet on insulin inhaler systems, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) developed a drug that targets SGLT2. A part of the glucose is excreted in the kidney and as it is a precious compound, kidney cells capture it by using SGLT2 transporter and put it back in the blood. This might be the critical point. Indeed, while others aim to increase insulin levels to somehow bypass the poor response to insulin, Johnson & Johnson's strategy is to target the SGLT2 transporter to decrease glucose uptake by the cells (and therefore, it lowers blood glucose levels). It bypasses the need of insulin to increase glucose uptake by directly targeting the effector of glucose entry.

Following successful clinical trials involving over 10 000 patients, the FDA approved JNJ's drug last Friday. Wall Street analysts predicted that the drug could bring $111 million in 2013 and even rise to $667

This article was written by

Jean-Christophe obtained his bachelor in Biomedical Sciences [BS] at the University of Namur [FUNDP] in 2010 and then moved to the Université Libre de Bruxelles [ULB] where he obtained his master degree in Biomedical Sciences with summa cum laude in 2012. He is currently PhD student in Cédric Blanpain s laboratory, a leading researcher in cancer and stem cell biology who was among the Nature's "10 people who mattered in 2012". He acquired deep knowledge in stem cells biology, cancer biology, genetics and drug development. He takes advantage of this rare profile to analyze pharmaceutical and biotechnologies markets.

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