Researchers say new diabetes drug prevents heart attack, stroke

On Monday, researchers announced that Victoza, a diabetes drug produced by Novo Nordisk, prevents heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths.

The study, funded by Denmark-based Novo Nordisk, was conducted at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and led by John Buse, MD, PhD. During the trial, 9,340 patients were randomly assigned to receive either Victoza or a placebo for a median of 3.8 years.

Of those taking Victoza, 13 percent had a heart attack, stroke or death compared to the 14.9 percent taking a placebo, leading to a 13 percent decrease in risk. Pancreatitis — a supposed side effect of the drug — did not manifest and patients taking Victoza lost about five pounds more than those on the placebo.

Researchers and Novo Nordisk credit the new diabetes data to the FDA's tougher regulations for diabetes drugs that many in the industry criticized, saying they slowed patient access to drugs.

Victoza is only the second drug to earn such positive results. The first, a pill sold by Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim called Jardiance, presented promising results last year.

Researchers believe these new results could change the way physicians treat diabetes, causing them to move away from metformin, the go-to generic diabetes drug.

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