Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) made more than $1.1 billion last year from Jardiance in treating type 2 diabetes. The company could be on its way to making even more money with the drug after reporting successful results from a late-stage study for heart failure. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on July 7, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss Lilly’s latest results.
Keith Speights: Let’s move to some other news. Eli Lilly recently, just in the last few days, announced its first and only successful trial for heart failure. But this trial didn’t involve a heart drug. What’s going on with this Brian?
Brian Orelli: This is a diabetes drug that targets SGLT2, that’s sodium glucose transport protein two. It prevents reabsorption of glucose into the kidneys. That obviously, when you don’t get the glucose back in your bloodstream, that lowers the glucose levels. That’s good for diabetes. But the drug also seems to help the heart beyond the lowering of glucose.
There’s a couple of hypotheses on how it actually helps the heart. I’m not sure that anybody has really come to a conclusion of what actually that is. It seems like maybe the improved kidney function because that’s where the drug is working. That might be the reason why you get improved heart function. But either way, it clearly is working.
They had previously run a study in patients that had heart failure for patients who had reduced ejection fraction. Reduced ejection fraction means that you don’t get pumping out of the heart as well versus the preserved ejection fraction means that the amount of blood that comes into the heart isn’t as high. But either way, you have heart failure.
In the reduced ejection fraction, they had the drug reduced cardiovascular death or hospitalization for heart failure by 25% compared to placebo. They haven’t released the data for the patients who had preserved ejection fraction and they’re saving that data for a medical meeting called the European Society of Cardiology, which will happen on August 27. Investors should mark that date.
It should be the incremental benefits here, depending on the extent to which it reduces cardiovascular death or hospitalization for heart failure in the patients who have preserved ejection fraction. The company’s also testing it in chronic kidney disease, which could offer another big opportunity.
Speights: Brian, this is just an off-the-cuff question here and you might not know the answer to this. But do you think that there’s a possibility that other diabetes drugs from other companies could end up being successful? I mean, there are other drugs that are using a similar mechanism.
Orelli: I think in theory probably all of the SGLT2 inhibitors probably work in the similar way and probably would also have benefits to the heart as well as benefiting patients with diabetes.
Speights: As we know when one drug is successful in a given area, other drugmakers quickly follow suit. I would suspect we’re going to see more movement on this front.
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.