(Adds details of trials, context on oral treatment)
COPENHAGEN, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Novo Nordisk said on Wednesday it would begin a Phase III trial of its treatment for diabetes that could be taken orally rather than by injection after “encouraging” results in previous trials.
The tests are for what is calls a long-acting GLP-1 analogue semaglutide. The oral tablet is a part of Novo Nordisk’s effort to make treatment less painful for diabetes patients and minimize the use of needles.
In tune with this strategy, the company also initiated the development of the world’s first once-weekly insulin injection last year.
“The first trial in the programme is planned for initiation in first quarter of 2016 and will investigate the efficacy and safety of once-daily oral semaglutide doses of 3 mg, 7 mg and 14 mg, compared to once-daily oral anti-diabetic sitagliptin dose of 100 mg,” Novo Nordisk said in a statement.
“The remaining six trials of the PIONEER programme are all expected to be initiated during 2016,” it said.
The world’s largest diabetes drug maker also said it would invest $2 billion in the next five years on production facilities in North Carolina in the United States and in Denmark, creating 800 jobs.
Around 387 million people are living with diabetes worldwide according to the International Diabetes Federation, a number expected to increase by 205 million by 2035.
Reporting by Annabella Nielsen and Sabina Zawadzki, editing by Terje Solsvik and David Evans