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Can Oral GLP-1 Be More than Just Convenient?

Executive Summary

Given the collapse of all the inhaled insulin collaborations, many observers are skeptical that the Novo/Emisphere collaboration to create an oral version of Novo's liraglutide GLP-1 -- the drug-delivery company's biggest deal ever -- will work out any better. GLP-1, however, doesn't have all the baggage of insulin therapy, so there is in fact better logic for an oral pill's success. Still, if the program creates merely an oral version of once-a-day liraglutide, with no clinical advantages over its GLP-1 competitors, it will die just as certainly as did inhaled insulin.

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Decades after recombinant insulin first hit the market insulin is still big business. But in the race to lock up that market, the big players haven't done much to address a key problem with treating high blood sugar with insulin--a better way to inject the hormone glucagon when blood sugar levels drop way too low, or hypoglycemia. Enter Enject. The start-up has amassed exclusive worldwide commercial licenses to several pieces of technology that have enabled it to develop an auto-injector pen similar to the EpiPen, which is used to administer epinephrine in the event of severe allergic reactions. Enject hopes it can parlay its nifty device into a lucrative business development deal with one of the big insulin drug or device players.

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