Basal insulin is vital to staying healthy and avoiding long-term complications for many people living with type 2 diabetes.
But taking a shot every day does have some drawbacks.
Luckily, if you happen to be one of the 14% or so of type 2s who rely on basal insulin, you may soon have a new option that requires far fewer injections.
Reduced Management Burden
Novo Nordisk is currently in trials testing their new icodec insulin — a basal insulin that only needs to be injected once a week.
Traditional basal insulins, like Sanofi’s Lantus, must be injected every day at the same time. This same-time-daily requirement can be difficult to manage for many people. Those who travel frequently, those with memory or cognitive issues, and those with unpredictable schedules often struggle to time these daily injections correctly, or worse, forget them altogether.
Researchers at Novo Nordisk were well aware of this burden when they started pursuing a new type of insulin analog that can keep blood sugars level for an entire week, negating the need for daily injections.
Stage 2 Clinical Trial Findings for Icodec
In a recently published randomized, double-blind, double-dummy trial, icodec proved to be just as effective as traditional basal insulins at stabilizing blood sugars and helping people with type 2 diabetes lower their A1c.
In this study, half of the subjects (all type 2 people who had not previously been on insulin), were given once-daily Lantus insulin, while the other half was given icodec once per week.
After the 26 week trial period, both groups were found to have similar drops in A1c. Subjects also showed similar changes in fasting plasma glucose from baseline to week 26 between the two groups while self-reported mean blood glucose measurements were also very similar.
Just as important, icodec appeared to be just as safe as currently used basal insulins in terms of hypoglycemia occurrence and rate of other adverse events.
When Will Once-Weekly Insulin Be Available?
Currently, Novo Nordisk is gearing up for their stage 3 clinical trials with icodec.
In these trials, the company will focus again on the use of once-weekly insulin on patients who have not had experience with insulin previously. In addition to the measures collected in phase 2, the researchers also hope to focus more on real-world usability, specifically whether once-weekly insulin reduces the patient burden and helps patients stick to their therapy routines more consistently.
The original timeline for phase 3 had trials starting in the second half of 2020, but things may be delayed some due to COVID-19.
Novo Nordisk is still hopeful to have more exciting results to share in early 2021 with a potential market release date to follow.