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New GSK diabetes drug works, but faces tough competition

Signage is pictured on the company headquarters of GlaxoSmithKline in west London July 21, 2008. GlaxoSmithKline announce their half yearly
Signage is pictured on the company headquarters of GlaxoSmithKline in west London July 21, 2008. GlaxoSmithKline announce their half yearly

LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline's experimental once-weekly diabetes drug albiglutide was effective in late-stage clinical trials, but the medicine may struggle to differentiate itself in an increasingly competitive market.

Albiglutide belongs to the same class of injectable GLP-1 drugs as Victoza, from Novo Nordisk, and Byetta and Bydureon, from Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca.

GSK said in a statement on Monday that its treatment had lowered glycated hemoglobin, an indicator of blood glucose levels, more than placebo and some other treatments in the series of trials.

Albiglutide, which has been submitted for U.S. and European regulatory approval, met its main goal in five studies, although it did not demonstrate that it was equally as good as pioglitazone in one group of patients.

The most commonly reported adverse effects in the studies were gastrointestinal, mainly nausea and diarrhea, and injection site reactions, the company said.

Given its clinical profile, industry analysts believe albiglutide may struggle to generate major sales, seeing more promise in new GLP-1 products such as Eli Lilly's dulaglutide.

Consensus forecasts for albiglutide currently point to modest annual sales of around $440 million by 2018, according to Thomson Reuters Pharma.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle and Ben Hirschler; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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